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The Ramapo Girls Fencing Team is on its way to the State Championships, with A-rated sabre fencer Madeline Engelman-Sanz leading the way. In all four years of her high school career, Maddy has maintained an undefeated status. Coach Jim Miller explained, “Fencing is a sport of strategy, speed, and strength. Maddy is ‘off the charts’ in all three categories, which presently makes her a world-class fencer and a future Olympian.” 

Also the co-founder of the Ramapo Women’s Sports Coalition, Maddy has proven to be an invaluable member of the team, always bringing a positive attitude to practice and supporting her teammates. As put by Kate Seyffer, a freshman sabre fencer, “Apart from being a phenomenal fencer, she is an extremely motivational and humble teammate and leader.” Her patience is critical as she often serves as a mentor to other sabre fencers, and has helped them improve not only in their fencing skills but also in their self-esteem. 

Maddy, who has maintained her A rating over the last four years, has achieved an outstanding amount of medals and wins. On top of her success within Ramapo, she competes internationally for the USA. On her birthday last year, she won first place at the Cadet World Cup in France. Maddy recalled, “Standing on the podium and hearing the national anthem being played because of my achievement was an incredibly special moment.” The caliber of this win was only matched by the team gold she and her teammates won at the Pan American Junior Championships. Recently, at the 2024 Pan American Championships in Rio, she won the silver medal, and continued to win gold in teams.

Fencing has enriched Maddy’s life in many ways. She’s been able to travel around the world for competitions, all the while making lifelong memories with her fellow teammates. She is proud to have the ability and responsibility to represent her school, her club, and her country at these events. At the same time, she’s been able to improve her skills on and off the strip, including time management and athleticism. 

Every day, Maddy continues to work towards improving and learning new skills. She will continue to fence for the Princeton Women’s Fencing Team. She says, “The women on the team are extraordinary athletes, who I am looking forward to having the opportunity to train and compete with. The coaching and resources at Princeton will allow me to grow as a fencer and take my skills to the next level.”

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Cayla Menicola is an extraordinary basketball player and an even better teammate. Menicola’s passion for basketball and her fantastic personality will not go unnoticed. Menicola is a dedicated and talented athlete who will mark Ramapo’s history. 

Cayla’s journey in basketball began when she was around six years old. Starting as a young, excited player, she quickly rose to the top. When it comes to basketball, Cayla says that she, “can’t remember my life without it.” While it is not easy being an athlete, Cayla has succeeded in every way. Being an athlete involves persistence, stubbornness, and determination, all of which Cayla exudes. Cayla is a key team player, leading her team and herself to victories, such as her recent achievement of scoring 1000 career points. Cayla reached this total during her game versus Wayne Hills on January 20th. She considers her position a stretch forward, meaning she can shoot and comfortably play further from the basket like a guard. Coaches and teammates praise Cayla’s ability to help the team score points and inspire and motivate those around her. Coach Gordon, Ramapo’s girl’s basketball coach, describes Cayla as “a terrific leader for our team.” She also says that she “is a pleasure to coach!” Her contribution to the team is not overlooked, as many of her teammates commend her role. 

Basketball is not a single-person sport, and Cayla has a team like many others. A basketball team consists of girls who would have each other’s backs any time of day. Cayla’s team helps each other build up their confidence. When interviewing her teammate, Ella Saxton, she says, “Cayla is one of the nicest people I know! She is hardworking, and playing with her has been so much fun. She is a great basketball player but an even better teammate and friend!” 

Cayla advises younger aspiring athletes like she once was. She says, “My main advice for future players would be to play with a lot of confidence! Believing in yourself and the work you’ve put in is one of the most important things; it’s tough to be successful with no confidence.” 

As the final buzzer sounds on the last year of Cayla’s high school basketball career, the memories and lessons learned on the court undoubtedly stay with her and inspire those who witness her remarkable journey.

In 2020, the Ramapo softball season got cut short due to the pandemic. The team was only able to participate in three practices before having to shut down the softball program because of COVID. However, this unprecedented time has not stopped Nowak from exhibiting her athletic prowess and leadership skills both on and off the playing field.

As both a softball player and a fantastic basketball player, Nowak works in conjunction with her teammates to complete plays on the softball field, and score baskets on the basketball court. Her athletic ability is unequaled, allowing her and the Ramapo girls' basketball team to win a state championship, which is what she is most proud of.

Nowak is held in high regard by coaches and teammates and has even won both all league and county awards for being an amazing softball player. Her coaches would describe her as a determined, coachable, and dedicated player who always gives 100% effort no matter what. Over the years, Savannah has fostered a close relationship with her coaches, as well as her teammates.

Angela Delano, who also plays for the Ramapo softball team, commented on Nowak as an individual and team player saying, “Savannah Nowak is an extremely hardworking teammate who always does her best to make sure everyone on the team feels welcome. Beyond being an all around amazing player, she is a great person that always cheers for everyone and knows just what to say to get the team’s spirit up.”

This year has been a tough year for everyone, especially our seniors who do not get to participate in the normal rituals often participated in by the graduating class. When asked about what she will miss the most about Ramapo softball and basketball she said, “I am going to miss the community surrounding Ramapo sports the most. We are lucky to have the most incredible coaches, trainers, and everyone who makes our sports programs possible. Everyone who is a part of Ramapo sports dedicates themselves to every sport which is special.”

Nowak is a naturally talented athlete who humbly admits that her success was not all up to her. Her drive and her passion were the biggest contributors to her accomplishments, but her past coaches Josh Lont and Frank Baldino have left a lasting impact on her life. Her current coaches, Coach White, Coach Durando, and Coach Hofsaes have been mentors to her this year and she is thankful for all they have taught her in such a short amount of time.

Community is what makes the Ramapo students, staff, coaches, and administration so special. The amount of school spirit that fills the hallways of Ramapo High School is unmatched. “I am going to miss the people and the school spirit at Ramapo. Everyone at Ramapo wants to be the best, and it pushed you to be your best.” Nowak, like all seniors, is moving onto bigger and better things outside of our small Ramapo community. Nowak herself is going to play softball at the University of Rochester next year, but she will always be a Ramapo Raider at heart.

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(Nowak playing catcher during a Ramapo softball game. Photo Courtesy of Sophia Katsouris)
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(Nowak in her batting stance ready to hit the ball. Photo courtesy of Sophia Katsouris)
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For the season opener of the 2023 year, Ramapo kicked off on a night under the lights against Somers High School, the defending New York State Class A state champions. The game was a nail-biter all the way through, with both teams surpassing deficits and pulling off spectacular plays. However, there was one moment that certainly defined the night… and the game. 

The score was 34-26, with Somers ahead by 8 with 1:46 on the clock. After an efficient drive down the field, Ramapo quarterback Landon Deprima (#9), found WR Brandon Del Valle (#14), in the endzone for a touchdown. After failing to complete a two-point conversion needed to tie the game, Ramapo went for a last-effort onside kick, which was miraculously recovered by Kenton Grofelt (#27). It was now Ramapo’s ball, and they needed someone to step up to the plate. That someone was Ramapo senior Gavin Taylor. 

With 0:06 seconds left on the clock, Deprima launched a 39-yard Hail Mary attempt to a sprinting Taylor down the right field sideline. In spectacular fashion, Taylor dove into the endzone, securing the ball and the walk-off win for the Raiders. Taylor, who was subbing in for injured star WR Zach Schnorrbusch, commented, “I just ran as fast as I could towards the end zone. I didn’t know if I would get to it, but I just fully extended and the ball ended up in my hands.” Taylor further credited his team and QB, stating, “It was a great throw by Landon. Our team never gave up, and it was a great feeling to come out on top.” 

Gavin, who grew up in Oakland NJ, has been playing football his entire life. He plays both WR and CB for the Raiders and is a pivotal player in the team’s success. Gavin’s athletic talents also extend past the football field, as he participates as a sprinter and long jumper for Ramapo’s track and field program. Mr. Manzo, Ramapo teacher and head coach for Track and Field, affirmed this, stating, “Gavin has had a very positive impact on the track program over his first three years, and we look forward to a big senior season as well. Gavin has a quiet intensity that makes him a force on the track, which he showed last season as part of the 4×100 relay team that broke the school record numerous times before setting it for good at the State Meet of Champions. We are all excited to have another year of track and field with Gavin.”

Gavin has proven himself a hard worker both on and off the field and has always left a positive impact on both his teammates and peers throughout the Ramapo community. Gavin looks to continue his successes on the field for the remainder of the season, and we wish him good luck and a great senior year.

personally know everyone that I write these articles about. However, there comes a time when I believe that a journalist should break free of a simple writing style and express themselves. And what not a better time to do this than when writing an article someone I personally know. Choi has not only been a teammate of mine on the tennis team. He’s been a mentor for me throughout my high school career, and I can’t thank him enough for that. To me, he is much more than a tennis player: he’s my friend. Good luck at Nova, Choi! Ramapo will miss you!

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