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Learning Differences Conference 2013
Wednesday
Jun152011

ACS Varsity Basketball ISST Championships - 2011

By Nate Todd

      In the midst of the only snowstorm of 2011, we departed Athens for the ISST basketball tournament in London.  While all other ACS students were sleeping through the snow-day on March 9th, we woke up sharing one goal; to claim the gold.  Even though we seemed relaxed when we arrived in London, we were all chomping at the bit to get on the court and prove ourselves.  Although I was not on last year’s team, I was aware of the crushing defeat they suffered in the semifinal game, and the returning players made it clear that this year belonged to ACS.  Not only did they want to win the gold, they wanted to prove themselves against the team that had prevented them from winning last year-ISB.
     That night, the eight of us that were housed together got plenty of rest in order to prepare for the first day of competition (A big thanks to our housers, what a pain we must have been!).  The competition was hosted by ACS Cobham (in England) and consisted of 12 international schools from all around Europe, as well as Cairo.  After several more hours of nervous waiting, we finally faced the first opponent - Cairo.  We knew that we were good, but we weren’t sure how we would stack up as a team, because we hadn’t played against most of the other teams (we played TASIS twice in the ACS Anti-Drug tournament).  Thankfully, our outstanding coach, Annie Constantinides, had prepared us well, and on the first day we beat both Cairo and Paris.  From the second we won the tip-off against Cairo, we knew who we were, and what we had to do to reach our goal; we won the game 90-27.  Our confidence was sky-high and we believed that we could not be stopped, demonstrated by the fact that we defeated Paris (74-38).  We made few mistakes in that game, and our defense was smothering.  We returned to our house ecstatic.  Not only had we steamrolled the competition in our games, but we had seen most of the other teams play, and thought that they were no match for us.
     On the second day, we faced the American School of London.  In the first half, ASL showed us that we would have to play well if we wanted to continue winning.  We realized that just because we were on the court, we weren’t going to automatically win – we would have to play good basketball.  At the end of the first half, we were up by just ten points.  After an intense locker room session with our coach, we played great basketball in the second half, and beat ASL (66-41).
     This victory was not as strongly celebrated, because after the game we found out that we had to face ISB in the ensuing semifinal.  The faces on the returning players were stern; they told us how much a victory over the International School of Brussels would mean to them, and that we simply could not lose. With our team spirit soaring, we were able to quickly extinguish ISB’s chances of winning (we took the game 66-44), and headed to the finals.  The semi-final game was extremely physical and it was our strength that propelled us ahead of ISB.  We were all relieved that night, because we had defeated ISB.  We remained hopeful for the final, trusting that our euphoria would carry us to victory over TASIS, our opponent in the final.  We had already played TASIS twice during the ACS Anti-Drug tournament, and were victorious both times.  We soon realized that the game in Cobham, a mere thirty minutes from TASIS, was practically a home game for TASIS.  We were shocked by the intensity of the TASIS supporters during warm-ups the next day.  Thankfully, we did have some of our own support from a small contingent of ACS parents and from our own housing family.  It was an excruciating game, because every time TASIS scored, the crowd roared in delight – they were also screaming when TASIS was on defense.  Despite these distractions, our team relied on each other and our coach to secure a very hard-fought victory with a 59-43 win.
     We had great performances from our seniors in that game, as it was the last time that they would play for ACS and they left it all on the floor.  It was incredible to hold the trophy in our hands, as each one of us had hoped to witness from the beginning of the season.  To finally receive the gold in its tangible form was an unbelievable feeling, one that none of us will forget.  Led by our coach, camaraderie, and confidence, we saw every game as an opportunity to prove who we were, winning each game by at least 16 points.  We outplayed every team, driven by our overwhelming desire to win.  For those of us who will return next year, we cannot wait to repeat this amazing experience and will seek to maintain the pride of ACS Athens!  For our teammates who are leaving this year, it was a great ride and we wish you the best of luck in the future.

Wednesday
Jun152011

ACS Swim Team 2011

By Elena Kefalogianni

      Every year in our school the ACS Swim Team fights to win the SCIS (High School Swimming Championships) and the Greek competitions with the other schools of Athens. This year these competitions took place at ACS with great success. On the occasion of these events, I thought I would first write a little about the history of swimming. Then I interviewed our Swim Team Leader, Irene Tzelalis, and our Coach, Athanasia Kotsiani. Through this information and these interviews I hope to give you a feel for the experience of being a member of the ACS Swim Team.     “Competitive swimming in Europe started around 200 BC, mostly using the breaststroke. In 1873 Steve Bowyer introduced a stroke called the Trudgen to Western swimming competitions. This stroke was a copy of the front crawl used by Native Americans. Due to the British disapproval of splashing, the Trudgen employed a scissor kick instead of the front crawl’s flutter kick. Swimming was part of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens. In 1902 Richard Cavill introduced the front crawl to the Western world. In 1908, the world swimming association, Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), was formed. The butterfly stroke was developed in the 1930s and was at first a breaststroke variant until it was accepted as a separate stroke in 1952. In 1964, Lillian Bonnell won the award for being the first woman to participate in a swimming competition and because of her millions of women compete every year”.
     Swimming is a sport that everyone can learn and practice for his/her whole life. It’s very good exercise and keeps your whole body in good condition. Swimmers are taught the four swimming strokes used for competitions; the front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly, which are swum either as a single stroke or in combination over various distances.
     The SCIS took place on Friday, February 4 and Saturday February 5 and for the first time had 11 participating schools from: Poland, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Greece. Over 100 swimmers and 20 coaches spent two days competing under the true values of good sportsmanship. The competitors took the opportunity to experience new cultures and make new friends.
     During the SCIS swimming competitions the atmosphere was very tense. Swimmers were all over the place chatting and getting ready for their turn. Being a participant in these competitions I had a lot of different feelings. However, since it was my first year on the ACS Swim Team, I decided to interview Irene Tzelalis, our Swim Team Leader, who is now an 11th grader and has a lot of experience. She has been a member of the ACS swimming team from sixth grade, and a captain since the eighth grade. I wanted to see what she felt about this competitive environment and about the sport.
     The first question that I asked her was: How she felt as the Team Leader? She said that being a team leader is very rewarding because it has given her the opportunity not only to lead the warm up and the stretches but also to motivate each member alone. She said she feels that it is her duty to help the younger members reach their goals. She said that she tries to convey the importance of commitment and determination.
     The second question that I asked her was: What her feelings are shortly before she is about to compete? “As we all know it is difficult to explain the feeling you get before a race.” She said that as she stands behind the diving block people all over are cheering and this makes her feel anxious but it also makes her want to do her best. She said that these feelings are often forgotten with the rush she gets when she enters the water. She wouldn’t trade this feeling for anything.
     The third question that I asked her was: “What are the goals that the team sets for the races?” She said, “The team, as a whole, ultimately sets three goals for the competitions: to have a great time, to support each other, and to always come out of the pool, out of breath. This indicates that all the swimmer’s energy has been spent and his/her best has been accomplished.”
     The fourth question was one of the hardest questions for her to answer. Since Irene will be a senior at ACS next year, I asked her, “What memories would you remember most about the teams?” She said that she has so many great memories from both the Middle School and the Academy Swim Teams. As a Middle School Swim Team member, the first memory that she will always recall was the trip to Warsaw, Poland, where she competed in the SCIS tournament against 10 other schools. This was ACS’s first year competing but this did not stop them from dominating the competition. She said she will always remember the amazing team dinner at Burger King at the Zurich International Airport. The team’s flight had been delayed six hours. The camaraderie developed among the team members during this dinner when the team was all together away from the pool is what she remembers most.
     She has slightly different memories from her time spent on the Academy team. Though fun was always a key factor when describing the team “get-togethers”, competitiveness became more important. Her most important memory so far is the SCIS competition at ACS this year. At this competition the fun, the camaraderie and the competitiveness all came together. As the years have progressed she has formed many friendships and acquaintances with swimmers from other schools which made this competition particularly meaningful. She described: the fun we all had gathering in the backfield with the beautiful weather in Athens, lying on the towels and tanning; the team dinner after the final day of competition where we all brought food and desserts to a member’s house and sat together devouring the food and in the end 15 swimmers were unable to move from the dinner table.  But her best memory of swimming at the Academy will always be the satisfaction she feels when she hears her name being called up to receive a medal for an event. The feeling is unforgettable, and gets better every year!
     The last question that I asked her was very interesting, as a lot of us are wondering if it’s true that swimming, as a sport, can play a role in one’s mental abilities. I asked her “What she thought about this?”  She said that many people doubt the strength of swimming as a sport, and tend to eliminate it from the discussions that soccer and basketball dominate. She felt swimming provides individuals with character traits that team sports cannot. As an individual sport, she said swimming creates strong-willed, determined and untiring human beings. She said discipline is very important because swimming requires endless practice and the body eventually surrenders to the exhaustion. She felt swimming will always play a very significant role in her life. It has become part of her daily life and a way to channel her extra energy. Swimming, though hard and very demanding provides her with an escape from reality and from all prevailing problems. She strongly urges everyone to reconsider when they claim that swimming is not a sport!
     After my interview with Irene I decided that I would also interview our coach, Athanasia Kotsiani. Her support and guidance drives the team to success. She said that every year her goal for the ACS Academy Swim Team is to make the swim team experience a successful and happy time for all swimmers.  She wants practices to be enjoyable and swimmers to find a pleasant environment filled with rich and challenging experiences. She also wants all students to have the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends by participating in the competitions and by forming stronger relationships with the members of the team. Finally, she pointed out that we should take into consideration that swimming is one of the most beneficial forms of cardiovascular exercise, that it helps swimmers to adopt good and healthy habits, that it often becomes a swimmers lifetime sport, and that it helps swimmers develop life skills such as time management, self-discipline, and sportsmanship.
     This year in the competitions and practices she strove to provide a team environment that was both fun and challenging for all students. Even though we all know that swimming is an individual sport, teamwork has played a critical role in our team. Strong bonds among all swimmers were developed and we helped each other to maximize our effort and performance. Positive motivation was provided to every swimmer, regardless of ability. This shows that sportsmanship can be developed in every sport no matter if it is individual or team sport as the win of a member in our team gave happiness to us all.All members of ACS Academy Swim Team have made major improvements over the season achieving many impressive personal best times and breaking many school records. At the SCIS championship ACS team members were in 19 individual finals and 3 team finals. They won an individual silver and 2 individual bronze medals and a bronze medal in the 200m freestyle relay. The men received 3rd place and the women 8th place overall. As a team they were in 6th place and they also received the sportsmanship award for the second year in a row, as voted by the other schools. At the 6th ACS Athens Swimming Cup our swimmers placed in every single race, winning many medals, breaking many school records along the way, finishing the race in 2nd place among 10 Greek and International private schools and shared 1st place with the MS team in the overall placement.
     After interviewing our Team Leader, Irene Tzelalis and our Coach, Athanasia Kotsiani, and participating in my first year experience on the Swim Team, I can concluded that swimming is one of the best sports that I can choose to practice and keep for a lifetime. Also, I found that the ACS Swim Team members (MS and Academy) show sportsmanship, good cooperation, determination and camaraderie. Finally this year the competition ended with success and with many great achievements which made all the swimmers happy and proud.

Source used: "Swimming (sport)." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 2 May 2011. Web. 15 May 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swimming_(sport)>.