Durant High School Journalism

Wrestling Is Family For Durant Grad Hendon Haley

Hendon+Haley

Hendon Haley

Hendon Haley is a senior at Durant High School. His passion for wrestling started about 12 years ago when his oldest brother, who was a freshman at Durant at the time, introduced the sport to Haley. Haley, along with his three older brothers, has wrestled ever since.

In the wrestling season of 2019, he was Hillsborough county champion, regional champion, and placed fourth in the state of Florida. Haley is most proud of his success at the state tournaments.

“It’s the biggest thing that I’ve gotten out of all my hard work,” said Haley. “That is something I’ll never forget and something very important to me, it was really everything I wanted.”

This past year, Haley was again a Hillsborough County champion, but he also was district champion, placed third in regionals, and was a state qualifier.

“Something that motivates me would definitely be my brothers because they have always been there for me in the practice room and they’ve done very well themselves in high school,” said Haley.”

— Hendon Haley

“The hardest part about wrestling is that it is an individual sport. It is one hundred percent up to you and how you perform as a wrestler,” said Haley.

Haley has been able to progress over the years and create a positive mindset going into his matches. He strives to be the best he can be and is supported by the motivation from his brothers.

“Something that motivates me would definitely be my brothers because they have always been there for me in the practice room and they’ve done very well themselves in high school,” said Haley.

Haley came into high school naturally motivated to either match or top his brothers in wrestling. He says that it is good to look up to people who are the best at what you do and learn from them. Haley also looks up to Jordan Burroughs, Olympic athlete and four-time world champion freestyle wrestler.

He has wrestled for Durant wrestling since his freshman year and was the captain for the 2019-2020 wrestling season. All four of his brothers were also captain of the Durant team. He takes the role of being a captain seriously and works hard to make sure the team strives for success.

“It’s a very important job and that’s how you build teams, you got to start with good leadership,” said Haley.

Haley has plans to attend Florida college, a Christian college in Temple Terrace. He doesn’t plan on continuing wrestling in college, but he wants a role in the wrestling community as either a coach, referee, or as someone who helps individuals with wrestling techniques.

Haley will miss his wrestling family after high school. He plans to keep in touch with teammates and attend Durant wrestling tournaments.

“We have one of the longest seasons of any other high school sport, so to be together with guys like that every day in the room for so long I’m going to miss that family aspect of just being there and grinding through hard times,” said Haley.

About the Writer
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Adamari Jaimez, Staff Writer

Adamari Jaimez is a junior at Durant High School. She was a staffer for the Durant yearbook and then became a Staff Writer for the Pawprint newspaper to...

Sommer Has Big Plans After Graduation

Colby+Sommer

Colby Sommer

Colby Sommer, one of Durant’s senior star lacrosse players originally started out as a baseball player. In fact, Sommer started lacrosse after seeing a series of lacrosse vine videos in middle school. The vine account, “Best Lax Edits,” edited videos of players, and highlighted exciting lacrosse moments during games. Sommer was hooked.

Sommer started playing in seventh grade at Fish Hawk Fields. Since starting the sport, he has made lacrosse a big part of his life by continuing with the sport all throughout high school and even earning a scholarship to play in college.

Sommer received a scholarship to St. Andrews University to play lacrosse. He was offered eighty percent financial coverage, along with an athletic dorm, a job in sports media department, and a food card.

Firefighting is, as Sommer says, his dream job.”

— Colby Sommer

However, Sommer has unfortunately faced some serious hardships that dramatically changed his plans for the fall. This season, Sommer collided with his teammate during one of their away games. While running down the field, he went headfirst into his teammate’s chest. After being rushed to the hospital, Sommer found out there was severe damage to his neck and spine.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Sommer could not stay long at the hospital, so he was sent home earlier than expected. He went home with crutches, and a neck brace to support the injuries from further damage. After many visits to the doctor and surgeries to help with residing injuries, Sommer is now completing physical therapy to help with regain full movement.

Although there has been much progress, Sommer will not be able to play lacrosse for his upcoming college season. Instead, he plans to stay home to recover from his injury while building a videography business. After fully recovering, Sommer wants to go into the fire academy to become a firefighter and attend Hillsborough Community College to continue schooling.

Firefighting is, as Sommer says, his “dream job.” Helping others has always been one of his priorities, especially throughout high school when many people need it most. Although SAU offered Sommer a student coaching position for the team, Sommer has decided to focus on this next path in the fire academy. He says he is “forever grateful for the opportunity” at SAU but is excited about his next steps with the fire academy.

About the Writer
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Marina Hawkins, Social Media Coordinator, Photo Editor

Marina Hawkins is a junior at Durant and is the Photo Editor and the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint newspaper. She is also part of the Varsity...

Senior Ahmad Fitts Leaves a Baseball Legacy at DHS

Senior Fitts at bat

Senior Fitts at bat

Durant senior, Ahmad Fitts, is an accomplished baseball player at Durant High School. He’s excelled on the field with a .342 career batting average and .964 OPS. Some players put up numbers like that and get a big head, but not Fitts.

“Fitts, in general, is one of the greatest people to be around,” said junior and Durant second baseman, Javier Quintana. “He never boasts and never puts anyone down.”

Quintana wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Junior and Cougars’ pitcher, Zander Fisk, also described Fitts as a great teammate. “He is good friends with everyone on the team and hardworking on and off the field.”

Even the coaching staff had good things to say about Fitts. Coach Keith Farina, assistant to Head Coach Butch Valdes, described Fitts as a “quiet kid who works his butt off.”

Fitts has enjoyed his time at Durant thoroughly. “I loved just being around the whole environment and my brothers,” he said.

“Fitts, in general, is one of the greatest people to be around.””

— Javier Quintana

Fitts talked about one of his teammates who made a big impact on his life–Durant class of 2019 player, Brendan Queen.

“When I was a freshman and watched Queen play he seemed like a pretty good player,” Fitts said. “Then my sophomore year, Queen ended up getting moved to the outfield and I really got to know him well.” Playing with Queen, and the many other guys he’s shared the field with at Durant, has been “just fun all around” for Fitts. “My experience playing for Durant has been so great, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Fitts also has enjoyed his coaches at Durant. He liked having Coach Valdes around. “Valdes really makes you tough both physically and mentally.” Fitts insists, “When you really get to know Valdes, he’s just a buff teddy bear.”

Coach Scolaro is also a favorite of Fitts’. “He is one of the funniest coaches I’ve ever had” but also “knows what it takes to be great.” He addded, “Scolaro takes a lot of time to help each player be better at what they do.”

The feeling is very mutual from the coaching staff. “It’s been a pleasure to coach him,” Coach Farina said. “He’s a polite and respectful kid who only wants to continue to learn and improve his game.”

Fitts’ great attitude, top tier talent, and fantastic work ethic all paid off as last fall he committed to Florida Southern College and will be a part of the Mocs’ program there. Fitts was able to take a deep breath after he committed.

“I was so relieved because getting recruited is a very hard and stressful process,” he said. “When you finally find that school that’s for you it’s the best feeling.”

Unfortunately, during the winter, Fitts tore his ACL and was told by doctors he could not play the remainder of his senior season. Thankfully the injury hasn’t affected his relationship with Florida Southern. “They just want me to take my time and get healthy,” said Fitts.

The rehab for Fitts has progressed as planned. “For the moment I can’t exactly run or do anything extreme, but I walk normally and can do minimum weights,” said Fitts. He isn’t worried about his recovery–he is excited about returning to the sport he loves. “I will return better than ever.”

Quintana thanked Fitts for his positive attitude and leadership on the team, and then added: “Fitts, I’m up.”

About the Writer
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David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Star Football Coach Don Shula Dies

With 33 years of coaching for the NFL, Shula left behind an astounding lecagcy and will be missed by the NFL and fans.

Courtesy of AP Photos

With 33 years of coaching for the NFL, Shula left behind an astounding lecagcy and will be missed by the NFL and fans.

On May 4, 2020, the sports world lost one of the greatest coaches in football. Don Shula passed away at the age of 90 years old. According to ESPN, the Miami Dolphins released a statement to the public stating “he died peacefully at his home.” 

Shula, a professional football player and coach, was best known for leading the 1972 Miami Dolphins to a Super Bowl victory. They went undefeated during the regular season and in the playoffs with a record of 17-0 that year. Shula is also the winningest coach in NFL history. In a 2007 interview, Shula stated “I was putting my legacy on the line with 16 wins and zero losses, it would’ve been a disaster if we lost the Super Bowl.” 

After winning the Super Bowl in 1972, he coached the Miami Dolphins the next season and ended that season with 14 wins and two losses. The Dolphins would go on to win the 1973 Super Bowl Championship game by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7. In 1974, the Dolphins would once again come in first place during the regular season, but fell short in the AFC Championship game to the Oakland Raiders. 

Miami Heat President Pat Riley said “He was tough, courageous, and an authentic leader with great integrity in his pursuit of perfection, which he achieved!” 

Shula started his football career as a defensive back in 1951 with the Cleveland Browns. He also played for the Baltimore Colts and the Washington Redskins. For a short period of time, he was the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions. He then went on to be the head coach for one of his former teams, the Baltimore Colts and then coached the Miami Dolphins. He coached the Baltimore Colts for 7 seasons and the Miami Dolphins for 26 seasons. 

Shula won two Super Bowl’s with the Dolphins and was a four time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year. In 1993, Shula was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. He had 328 regular season coaching wins and 19 in the playoffs. Shula coached three quarterbacks: Johnny Unitas, Bob Griese, and Dan Marino, who all went on to go into the Hall of Fame. In 1997, Shula was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 2019, Shula was revealed to be on the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All Time Team. 

His legacy shows that he will be missed by many people and had a very successful life.

About the Writer
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Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

Hailey McKean Represents Clay Shooting at Durant

Hailey+McKean+%28center%29+is+a+student+at+Durant%2C+heavily+involved+in+clay+shooting.

Courtesy of Hailey McKean

Hailey McKean (center) is a student at Durant, heavily involved in clay shooting.

There are so many sports out there like football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and many more. With so many sports to pick from, one that gets overlooked is clay pigeon shooting, also known as clay target shooting.

Clay shooting is a of sport where participants fire at flying clay pigeon targets in the sky with a shotgun, and it all started way back in the 19th century. In the late 1800s, shooting targets started to become a very popular sport, especially over in the United Kingdom.

In fact, there was even a time where there used to be no clay at all, it would be glass balls filled with feathers, and around that same time, a man named Emile Laporte invented the machine that actually throws the targets into the air. As time has gone on, the sport has evolved into what it is today.

 This is a sport with a very wide age range, it can vary anywhere from a young teenager all the way to 65 years and older. One teenager who is involved in clay target shooting is a student at Durant High School.

Hailey McKean, a sophomore at Durant High School, started clay pigeon shooting in 2017. McKean has participated in a few competitions since then, she has even won “Highest in Female” back when she first began to compete in 2017. 

McKean has been clay target shooting for about three years now and her love for it sprouted out of her military based family. Hailey McKean believed that a great way to embrace her family’s involvement in the military would be to get involved in clay pigeon shooting, like her father. When asked about what influenced Hailey McKean to start clay pigeon shooting, she said, “The love of it from my dad.” 

There is so much involved in clay target shooting that a lot of people do not think about. According to the NRA (National Rifle Association),  some important factors that go into this sport are learning how to read the targets, learning when to slap the trigger, and much more.

A shotgun can be a very dangerous tool if not used correctly and safely, so that is something that a participant has to constantly think about when shooting clay.

Clay target shooting might not get as much glory as football or baseball, but it is just as worthy. This thrilling sport deserves just as much praise as some popular sports like basketball, baseball, and hockey because it involves just as much strategy as those sports, McKean comments on this saying, “You need to have the mindset and the accuracy and you have to train for it just like any other sport.”

Practices for this sport can include reviewing errors and correcting them, practicing one’s stance, and so much more.

  Clay pigeon shooting is very important to McKean, she expands on this saying, “I don’t do it for the competition part, I just do it so…  as a community we can all come together.”

This sport means a whole lot to McKean, when she goes out to shoot clay, she states that, “It is helping me feel like an empowered woman.”

Not only is this a way for Hailey McKean to embrace her family’s environment, but it is also helping her to grow as a person. 

About the Writer
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Mattie Powers, Staff Writer

Mattie Powers is a senior at Durant High School and a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. Not only is Mattie Powers involved in the PawPrint, but...

N.C.A.A. Extends Eligibility for College Seniors

Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, all spring sports seasons were suspended due to public health concerns.

Courtesy of AP News

Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, all spring sports seasons were suspended due to public health concerns.

On March 12 many college spring sports teams were devastated to find out that the rest of their senior season was canceled and had come to an end. However, this feeling was partially lifted Monday, March 30, when the N.C.A.A. Division 1 Council announced that seniors athletes of all spring sports would have another year of eligibility due to their seasons being cut short. 

Even with this exciting news, there are still many restrictions on athlete eligibility. Individual universities and conferences will make the decision on whether to welcome athletes back or not. The Ivy League conference announced on Thursday, April 2 that extended eligibility went against the league’s current policies. 

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the League made the following statement regarding the decision. “Existing eligibility policies will remain in place, including its longstanding practice that athletic opportunities are for undergraduates.”

Even with the given opportunity, some seniors have decided that they do not want to return, regardless of whether their college allows it or not. According to the New York Times, Molly Milligan, a senior rower undergraduate at Penn State, decided she will not return if given the opportunity. 

She plans to be a graduate assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin while earning her master’s degree. She made the following statement regarding this decision. “The trauma of the past two weeks was really challenging to deal with. It is hard now going back to change that mind-set”

Some restrictions on whether the athletes will return are strictly financial. Schools only have a limited number of scholarships they can give out among the teams, and with the combination of incoming freshmen, transfer students, and seniors staying behind, it might be more than the school can handle. 

According to the New York Times, each team has a limited number of scholarships they can give out. Andy Fee, the athletic director at Long Beach State, made a statement regarding this saying that he feels that in today’s current world, its money [universities] just don’t have. Each school only has a certain amount of scholarships that it can give out to players.

But there is still hope for current athletes. Colleges along with the N.C.A.A. have announced that they plan to extend the rosters to make room for both the incoming recruits and seniors staying behind, this way the coaches of the teams will not have to worry about making cuts on recruits already designated to join the team. 

Time will tell how each college will respond to these announcements. During times like this it is important to hang on to as much normalcy as possible. This opportunity will allow seniors the chance to complete their senior seasons in the way they have always hoped for.

About the Writer
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Faith Miller, Staff Writer

Faith Miller is a senior at Durant High School and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint. This year will be her fourth season on the varsity Durant...

News Updates Besides COVID-19

Beloved country singer Kenny Rogers sadly passed away of natural causes at 81 years old.

Wade Payne, Associated Press

Beloved country singer Kenny Rogers sadly passed away of natural causes at 81 years old.

COUNTRY MUSIC LOSES ONE OF ITS FINEST

Country Music star Kenny Rogers died on March 20th in his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia.  Known for blurring the line between country and pop music, Rogers’ music career lasted 60 years beginning with his 1957 single “That Crazy Feeling.”  Rogers spent the early years of his career in a jazz band and later a folk music band, but his solo career took off in 1978 with “Lucille,” winning him the first of four Grammy Awards.  Rogers released his last song, “Once Again Its Christmas,” in 2015 and went on his final tour in three days later, visiting only five cities.

Rogers was briefly hospitalized in May of 2019 for dehydration, but afterwards said he planned on “sticking around through the years to come.”  However, Rogers passed under the care of hospice from natural causes according to a family spokesman.

Celebrities took to the internet mourning the death of the county legend, including Dolly Parton, who sang the hit duet “Islands in the Stream” with Rogers. “I love Kenny with all my heart.  My heart is broken,” she said.

Sarah Trahern, chief executive officer of the Country Music Association, spoke of his fame, saying, “He was a global superstar who helped introduce country music to audiences around the world.”

The Gambler is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, and nephews.

TOM BRADYT AND THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Future NFL Hall of Famer Tom Brady, 42, signed a two-year contract worthy of up to $59 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2020 season on March 20th.  After spending his first 20 years with the New England Patriots and earning six Superbowl rings, Brady comes to the Bucs “excited, humbled, and hungry,” per his official announcement of the deal on Instagram.  

Brady has made nine Superbowl appearances, but joins the Bucs, who currently have the second-longest active playoff drought and only one Superbowl win.  The Buccaneers are looking forward an added spark of the leadership as well as the postseason experience Brady can bring to the team. Following the signing, Bucs second year head coach Bruce Arians said, “Tom is the most successful quarterback in the history, but what makes special is his ability to make those around him better.”

Tampa fans have high hopes going into the 2020 season while Boston fans mourn the loss of their football star.  Codey Winters, a Buccaneers fan commented on the Twitter announcement, saying “This is the start of something special.”  Jeff Fuller, a Patriots fan, commented, saying, “From Pats fan to Bucs fan, you guys are getting the hardest working and greatest QB ever.”

FIRST LAUNCH OF THE UNITED STATES SPACE FORCE

President Trump signed legislation creating the US Space Force December 20th, 2019, thus creating the sixth branch of US armed forces.  The Space Force is the first addition to the Armed Forces since 1947, when President Truman created the Air Force.  The Space Force will maintain US dominance in space by collecting information and relaying communications around the world.  

On March 26th, the first national security mission of the USSF launched the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite (AEHF) from Port Canaveral.  A representative for Lockheed Martin, the contractor for the AEHF satellite, released a statement saying, “The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The jam-resistant system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.”  

After a short delay Thursday afternoon due to a misreading of the hydraulic equipment, the rocket was launched with the satellite from the east coast of Florida.  The information that will be communicated from the satellite should last beyond 2030, according to Lieutenant General John F Thompson, Commander of the Space and Missiles Systems Centre in California.  

DISNEY WELCOMES ZEBRA FILLY AND PORCUPETTE

Although Disney has closed its doors to humans in the wake of the Coronavirus, they are still welcoming new animal guests to their parks.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom recently welcomed a female young porcupine and zebra foal to the park, making the announcement on their Instagram page.  

The baby porcupine, or porcupette, was born on February 25th to mother Peri.  Peri was featured during her pregnancy with vet Natalie Mylniczenko on the “One Day at Disney” documentary on Disney+.  The prehensile tail porcupette will become part of the Species Survival Plan, a plan to preserve threatened or endangered species.  The Disney veterinary team tested her small, red quills to determine her gender. Peri and her mother are staying at Animal Kingdom’s Conservation Station.

Just after the birth of the young porcupine, Disney’s zebra mother, Heidi, welcomed her first offspring.  The zebra foal is yet to be named, but, according to reports, is strong and healthy. The 65-pound filly was standing within a half hour of being born.  Mark Penning, the Vice President of Animals, Science, and Environment at Disney’s parks, said the foal will take the next few weeks to bond with her mother.  The baby will have the chance to memorize her mother’s scent and unique markings before being introduced to the Kilimanjaro Safari’s Savannah.  

About the Writer
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Lilyann Belcher, Staff Writer

Lily Belcher is a sophomore at Durant High School and she is a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. She is also part of Durant’s Flag Football team,...

Durant Hockey Team Finishes a Great Season

The+Durant+hockey+team+makes+it+all+the+way+to+the+Lightning+High+School+Hockey+League+during+the+2019-2020+season.

Plant City Observer

The Durant hockey team makes it all the way to the Lightning High School Hockey League during the 2019-2020 season.

The Durant hockey team had an outstanding season led by Captain Christpoher “CJ” Comunale. They were also led by Alternate Captains: Michael Romeo, a junior at Durant High School, Jordan Putnam, and Xander Wise, both juniors at Strawberry Crest High School. 

With Comunale being injured at the beginning of the season due to an injury, he only played 13 games. Yet, the team stepped up to make it all the way to the second round of the playoffs.

Durant has two goalies. Ryan Putnam, a freshman at Strawberry Crest High School, who was one of the best goalies in the league. He ended the regular season with a record of 8 wins, 3 losses, and 3 ties. Will Chabalowski, a sophomore at Brandon Academy, also had a great season with a regular season record of 4 wins, 1 loss, and 3 ties.

Durant’s top scorer was Jordan Putnam. He ended with 21 goals and 16 assists. Rising star, Ethan Carstens, a freshman at Durant High School, ended with 13 goals and 13 assists. With Comunale back towards the end of the season, yet only playing 13 games, he had 8 goals and 13 assists. Durant also had very strong defense and will continue to improve their game

Durant faced Bloomingdale High School’s hockey team in their final game of the regular season and won the game by a final score of 3-1. Durant would end their 2019-20 season with a record of 12 wins, 4 losses, and 6 ties.

Durant would then go on to the first round of the playoffs and they would defeat Jesuit High School 6-3. The goals in the game for Durant came from CJ Comunale, Michael Hemmeke, Colin Smargon, Xander Wise, Ethan Carstens, and Robert Noble.

 Durant went on to the division finals to face Jenkins High School. Durant would fall behind 4-1 entering the third period. Yet, the team would not go down without a fight. Durant would score four goals in the final period. Jenkins would win the game 7-5 going all the way to the Lightning High School Hockey League finals to face Seminole High School. 

Durant’s season did not end there. Durant went on to the 2020 SAHOF States tournament, a three day tournament for tier one and tier two teams that made the playoffs. Durant played a total of three games in two days. 

They then played  Boca Raton High School and Durant won the game, 8-2. The next day, Feb. 23, 2020, Durant lost to Miami-Dade High School 5-0 but later that day they were  eliminated from the tournament by Southwest Broward losing in a shootout, 4-3.

Durant had a great season and we wish them the best of luck for the next season.

Rays Make Another Interesting Swap With Padres

Hunter Renfroe joins the 2020 Tamoa Bay Rays season lineup.

Hunter Renfroe joins the 2020 Tamoa Bay Rays season lineup.

If you got déjà vu from the Rays recent trade, it’s understandable considering how similar this deal is to another trade the two teams made only a month before. In January Tampa Bay made a shocking deal to trade outfielder Tommy Pham to San Diego in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and second base prospect Xavier Edwards. Just a couple weeks later the Rays traded another established Major League player to the Pads in relief pitcher Emilio Pagan for another Padres outfielder in Manuel Margot. Also headed to the Bay is catching and outfield prospect Logan Driscoll who had a slash line of .340/.458/.797 in the Northwest league. He’ll start the 2020 season in Class-A Bowling Green for Tampa Bay. 

Why did the Rays make this trade?

Fans may be curious as to why the Rays traded Pagan, the team’s leader in saves with twenty. For starters, Tampa Bay felt confident in their many bullpen arms, including Nick Anderson, Colin Poche, Diego Castillo, and Oliver Drake. They’re also counting on a rebound year from Jose Alvarado, who struggled after a scorching start last season. On top of that if guys like Brent Honeywell and Anthony Banda can fully recover from Tommy John surgery and be effective, it’s safe to say Tampa Bay will have a deep enough bullpen. 

The fact the Rays had four outfielders before this trade occurred also makes it interesting. Margot is a defensive outfielder, primarily in centerfield, with a very similar profile to Kevin Kiermaier but from the right side of the plate. However, Margot is coming off a year in which he hit .330/.420/.466 clip against lefties, making him an ideal platoon with Kiermaier, who struggles against left handers. Outfielder Randy Arozarena, acquired from St. Louis this offseason, is affected the most by this deal as instead of having a chance to be the fourth outfielder on the Opening Day roster, Margot will take that spot. Chances are Arozarena will start the year in Triple-A Durham.

General Manager of the Rays Erik Neander told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that they had been on Margot for a while, and had tried to acquire him with prospects. When that didn’t work the Rays resorted to trading from a place of depth to acquire a needed position player. Neander also told Topkin, “We feel really good about where we stand right now.” At the end of the day this trade sends a message to Tampa Bay: We want to win now. 

Why did the Padres make this deal?

This one’s a little easier to explain. The main reason for San Diego agreeing to this is they wanted to bolster an already solid bullpen. MLB Network rated Padres closer Kirby Yates as the top relief pitcher in baseball and now they can throw Pagan into that mix, which should be lethal. Having a strong bullpen will be crucial for San Diego as they will need to eat up innings to back a very young and inexperienced starting rotation.

However there are negatives to this deal for San Diego as centerfield is wide open for the Pads. Without the rangy Margot in center the outfield defense takes a significant hit. Newcomers such as Trent Grisham and former Ray Tommy Pham may have to plug that hole for the Friars, both of which are used to playing the corner outfield positions. The Padres took a risk in the outfield to strengthen the ‘pen, and only time will tell if it was worth it.

What’s next for Tampa Bay?

That’s a tough question with the always innovative Rays’ front office. After the Jose Martinez trade most Rays’ fans, including me, felt the Rays were pretty much set with their roster heading into Spring Training other than a few minor league signings. Clearly we were wrong as the Rays made another significant trade only days before pitchers and catchers reported. 

However, with only about two weeks before the Rays’ Spring Training opener, I just don’t see the Rays making another big trade, especially one that removes current players from the 25-man roster. Although Tampa Bay’s front office has a knack of making surprising trades so I wouldn’t completely rule it out. One thing is for certain, the Rays want to win, and now. If they can make another trade to improve the roster significantly for the right cost, they’ll do it.

About the Writer
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David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Twitter Q&A: 2020-2021 Rays Season

Fans are rallying with excitement for the upcoming baseball season. Tickets are already on sale, more information is provided at mlb.com.

Tampa Bay Rays

Fans are rallying with excitement for the upcoming baseball season. Tickets are already on sale, more information is provided at mlb.com.

The baseball season is almost upon us, so what better way to get ready than to answer your fan questions? I asked fellow fans on twitter and many students at Durant High School to send me any questions you have regarding the upcoming Rays season, and as the old saying goes, “Ask and you shall receive.”

Do you foresee anymore trades being done before opening day?

[email protected] on Twitter

I’d be shocked if the Rays made a major trade that really shakes up the clubhouse in the next month or so. After the Martinez trade it seems like the 25- man roster is set and ready to rock. Other than a few minor league signings and invitations to Spring Training I don’t see the Rays making anymore moves leading up to March 26th.


Do you think the Rays have a good starting rotation for this upcoming season?

[email protected] on Twitter

I’d be willing to argue Tampa Bay has the best starting rotation in baseball led by the three-headed monster of Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, and Blake Snell. They also have a very solid back of the rotation including Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos, Brendan McKay and possibly Brent Honeywell, depending on his progression from Tommy John surgery. What’s going to determine if the rotation lives up to its potential will be health. If the Rays can avoid the avalanche of injuries they experienced last season with the starting rotation they have a real shot of doing some serious damage this season. Expect there to be managed workloads on both Glasnow and Snell to avoid injury in 2020.


What do you think the Rays fallback plan is if Mike Zunino doesn’t work out?

[email protected] on Twitter

There’s no getting around it, Mike Zunino had a horrendous year on offense in 2019. However his defense was still spectacular, possibly being the reason why the Rays re-signed him this offseason. Tampa Bay has faith in him rebounding, but if he continues to struggle with the bat the Rays could opt to give Michael Perez the primary catching job and make Zunino the backup. If Perez struggles to produce at the big-league level Tampa Bay could give Kevan Smith or Chris Herrmann a shot, both of which recently signed minor league contracts with an invite to spring training. Another route they could go down is acquiring a catcher from another team, like they did last season stealing Travis d’Arnaud from the Dodgers. If the Rays want to hoist the World Series trophy, they are going to have to figure out the catching position one way or another.


Do you think Nate Lowe has a future on the team with Choi and Martinez?

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After acquiring Jose Martinez from St. Louis, the first base position is extremely crowded with Choi, Lowe, and now Martinez all needing playing time. Martinez can play outfield but his defense is shaky and could fit better at first base. If he struggles with the glove in the outfield but is effective at 1st then Lowe will be in trouble as both Choi and Martinez are under control for a few more years. On top of that they make the perfect platoon as Choi hits righties and Martinez rakes lefties. If this is the case then I don’t see how Lowe could fit on the current roster and could be dangled as trade bait for a midseason need the Rays have, such as a catcher.


Will Brent Honeywell be worth the wait? 

[email protected]_ on Twitter

Absolutely, yes, he will. Not only does he provide depth to an already deep pitching staff, the guy throws a screwball, which is unheard-of nowadays.  He’s been rated highly on every prospect list for years now and is rated as the 91st overall best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He’s going to be fun to watch, that I can assure you.


Do you think we’ll see an opener being used as often as we saw it last season?

[email protected] on Twitter

Assuming the health of the rotation, I just don’t see the Rays using as many openers as last season. The opener was born out of necessity and now that the Rays have a full and healthy (hopefully) rotation the opener won’t be as necessary as it was in previous seasons. It may make an appearance here and there but don’t expect one or two per week like 2019.


Do you think Wander Franco will be called up this year?

[email protected] on Twitter

I’d be very surprised if we see him in a Rays uniform this year. Keep in mind the kid is only 18, going to be 19, and hasn’t played in Double-A yet. It’s very unlike the Rays to rush a prospect, even one of Franco’s caliber, to the big leagues. He’ll start the year in Class-A Advanced, play a few games and be promoted to Double-A very early in the year. I don’t think it’s outlandish to say he’ll be in Triple-A by year’s end and be on the Rays’ Opening Day lineup card in 2021.


Who will be the most surprising player to watch this season?

-Zander Fisk, Junior at Durant High School

The easy or more popular choices would be Hunter Renfroe or Jose Martinez but I’m going to go out of the box a little here with Randy Arozarena. In the trade that sent Liberatore to the Cards the Rays got Martinez, but they also got the less talked about Arozarena. He’s pegged to be the fourth outfielder on the Opening Day roster if he impresses during Spring Training. First of all, the kid can flat out fly, automatically making him a fun guy to watch. He can also hit for average, he’s got a cannon and Gold Glove caliber defense. The power is still developing but the tools he has right now makes him a very intriguing player for 2020.


Will the Rays win the A.L. East?

[email protected] on Twitter

Looking at the roster right now, if the Rays can stay healthy, I truly believe the Rays can and will win this division. They have a top three starting rotation in all of baseball and the best bullpen, both of which led the league in ERA last season. In addition they have a newly revamped lineup with more power and a young core of guys who are hungry to win. If Tampa Bay can figure out how to win at Yankee Stadium and bury the Red Sox like they did last year, nothing is stopping them from claiming their first A.L. East title since 2010.

About the Writer
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David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Super Bowl 54 Approaching Quickly

This could be the first win for the Kansas City Chiefs at the Super Bowl. In addition to the game J-Lo and Shakira are the halftime performance.

Forbes

This could be the first win for the Kansas City Chiefs at the Super Bowl. In addition to the game J-Lo and Shakira are the halftime performance.

Super Bowl LIV or Super Bowl 54 will take place Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020 at Hardrock stadium in Miami, Fla. This years’ Super Bowl will feature the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. The Kansas City Chiefs look to win their first Super Bowl as a franchise and the San Francisco 49ers look to win their sixth Super Bowl championship. 

The Chiefs are led by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Since joining the Chiefs roster and being named their quarterback, Mahomes has led the Chiefs to a total of 27 wins and 8 losses. Although the Chiefs are favored to win the Super Bowl, there is hope for the 49ers. 

The 49ers have a great defense and offensive line and are led by quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo and Mahomes are two great quarterbacks, but this Super Bowl will make history as both quarterbacks have a combined winning percentage of .794, the highest combined winning percentage between two Super Bowl starting quarterbacks. The record was previously held by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks from Super Bowl 49 with a combined winning percentage of .766. 

Kansas City Chiefs head coach, Andy Reid has the sixth most wins as a coach in NFL coach with 221 wins during the regular season. This is Reid’s’ second trip to a Super Bowl with the last one time was in 2005. If he were to win this year’s Super Bowl, it would most likely put him in contention for a Hall of Fame spot and make him one of the best NFL coaches in history. For the other team is the 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan. He and his team started the 2018 season with a record of 0-9. Despite the slow start, the 49ers had a big bounce back season in 2019, ending with a record of 13-3. 

The 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game with the final score being 37-20, putting them in this years’ Super Bowl. The Chiefs sealed the deal in the AFC championship game by defeating the Tennessee Titans with a final score of 35-24. Both the Titans and Packers played their hearts out, but the 49ers and the Chiefs were the better teams this season. With all the hype this year’s Super Bowl, it should be an amazing game with it being predicted to have a high score between the two teams. You don’t want to miss this big event at the very end of the NFL season. 

About the Writer
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Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

Sports legend Kobe Bryant Passes Away

Much of society took to the Internet to pay their respects to Kobe Bryant, as well as to mourn the other crash victims. This tragedy impacted far more people than just NBA fans.

Mashable

Much of society took to the Internet to pay their respects to Kobe Bryant, as well as to mourn the other crash victims. This tragedy impacted far more people than just NBA fans.

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter, Gianna, 13, were confirmed dead in a helicopter crash Sunday afternoon.  The fiery crash took place over Calabasas, California killing all eight passengers and the pilot aboard the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter.  

The helicopter crashed far from homes or roadways, but the brush fire, ignited as a result of the crash, delayed first-responders arrival at the crash site.  

Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for his entire 20 year professional basketball career, retiring in 2016 as a basketball legend.  He was a five time NBA champion, two time NBA Finals MVP, and 18 consecutive NBA All-Star.  

Bryant was active on Instagram congratulating Lebron James on surpassing him for third on NBA’s all time scoring list just 15 hours before the crash.  It would be his last social media post.  

Bryant followed in his father’s, Joe “JellyBean” Bryant’s, footsteps.  Kobe Bryant lived with his two sisters and parents in Italy while his father played in the Italian league in 1984 after his career in the NBA and was active in soccer and basketball from an early age.  

When his family moved to Philadelphia in 1991, Bryant joined Lower Merion High School’s basketball team, leading the Aces to four state championships.  Bryant was drafted as the 13th overall draft pick to the Charlotte Hornets, but was quickly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant teamed up with Shaquille O’Neal in 1996 and won the next three NBA Championships in ’96, ’97, and ‘98.  Two years into his NBA Career with the Lakers, he was voted onto the 1998 All-Star team, becoming the youngest NBA All-Star at just 19 years of age.  After O’Neal left the Lakers in 2004, the shooting guard continued to shine, leading the league in scoring in 2006 and 2007.  

In 2008, Bryant played along side basketball stars Kevin Durant and Lebron James in the 2008 and 2010 Olympics, winning two gold medals for the US.  The Lakers won the next two NBA Championships in 2009 and 2010, the most recent NBA title for the team.  

Bryant’s final years of his professional career were plagued with injuries, including tearing his achilles in 2013, but he didn’t walk off the court immediately after the injury.  He finished the play, taking and making two free throw shots before retiring to the locker room. Tim S. Grover, Bryant’s long-time sports doctor, outlined Bryant’s resilience, especially during his 2013 games, in his novel “Relentless.”    

Bryant’s final injury came in January of 2015 when he tore his rotator cuff.  Nine months later, he announced he would retire at the end of the 2015 season.  After his retirement, Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner said, “Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.”  

Bryant wrote a short poem entitled “Dear Basketball” at the end of his career, which was turned into a movie of the same title.  The Disney produced movie went on to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018.

Bryant partnered with After-School All-Stars, a non-profit after school program for kids and ran a summer school camp for young, aspiring basketball players after his retirement.

His second daughter, Gianna, was following in her father and grandfather’s footsteps with hopes to be in the WNBA.  Bryant proudly coached his daughter and her AAU teammates in California and was reportedly on his way to a travel ball game.

Bryant was as inspirational off the court as his play was on the court.  His death reverberated across the country and tributes flooded social media for the father of four.  The game will miss him, but, as he said in “Dear Basketball,” “its time to say goodbye.”

Gianna and Kobe Bryant are survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant and their three other daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. 

About the Contributor
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Lilyann Belcher, Staff Writer

Lily Belcher is a sophomore at Durant High School and she is a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. She is also part of Durant’s Flag Football team,...

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