The North Shore Rugby Club has less than 35 players while drawing from a pool of seven schools: Duluth Marshall, Duluth East, Duluth Denfeld, Cloquet, Esko, Superior and Two Harbors. Rugby player Charlie Hooghkirk, a senior at Marshall, wants to get more people playing. Hooghkirk first played rugby in seventh grade. At the time he was homeschooled and bored with playing soccer. A friend suggested he try rugby and he liked it. Each rugby team plays with 15 people on the field at one time. The object of the game is to score points by getting the ball into the try zone of the opposing team.
Most sisters share rooms, clothes and gossip. Duluth East senior Ella and sophomore Andrea Brown go a step further and share a sports team. For the 2015 softball season, the Brown sisters shared the field for the Greyhounds. To add to the family dynamic, Nat Brown, Ella and Andrea's father, has been their coach since the two started playing softball. "Coaching my daughters has been one of the great joys of my life," Nat said. "It has been an opportunity that not many coaches or parents get. Not only have I coached them at the high school level but at every level on their way up.
The goalie can be one of the hardest positions of any sport. Veronica "Roni" Rudolph, a senior at Duluth East, manages being the East girls' varsity soccer goalie with ease. "As a goalie you can never question what you are going to do, you have to just do it," Rudolph said. "Many people ask, 'How are you not afraid?' and all I can say is I have a clear mind and my body just reacts to whatever happens. Being a goalie does come with a lot of pressure but for me, I like that pressure.
After three months of hard work, the Salvation Army Rookie Basketball 3-on-3 league finished up with intense championship games at the Salvation Army gym in West Duluth on May 8. This event was the culmination of the five-week league, narrowing 28 teams down to two championship teams in each level. The Central Ballers won the grades 3-4 division and the Denfeld Hunters won for grades 5-6. Hayden Clore is a third-grader on the victorious team. "It's fun," he said. "I like to sweat." Kris Mallett is the director of Rookie Basketball Association, a year-round program for boys and girls.
Balancing sports is hard, but balancing two incredibly demanding ones is harder. Amy Lemenager, a junior at Proctor High School, is a boxer and also a goalie for the Proctor-Hermantown Mirage varsity girls hockey team. Lemenager has been playing hockey for nine years. About five years ago she found out she had hypothyroidism (low activity of the thyroid gland), resulting in slow development. It made it difficult for her to control her weight. "At that point I made a commitment to a rigorous exercise regimen," Lemenager said.
Jackson Churchill, a junior at Duluth East High School, is a captain for both track and cross country. "Jackson is exactly what you want in a captain," said Joe Rauzi, a junior who runs cross country with Churchill at East. "He knows that the only way for the team to get better is to make sure everybody is working hard to get better, and not just the top runners." Churchill began running cross country in eighth grade and made it on the varsity sections team in ninth, 10th and 11th grades.
It isn't played on a field or court, there are no referees and there's no way to win. But to some, ballet is just as serious an athletic endeavor as football or basketball. Rachel Fuchs, a senior at Lakeview Christian Academy, has been dedicated to ballet since she was five. "It started with an odd obsession with Angelina Ballerina books," Fuchs said.
Spring sports often get the short end when it comes to the length of their season. The unpredictable weather patterns of Duluth can keep snow on the field or court through April. For boys' tennis, this poses a serious problem and often leaves the team with low numbers and few players who are dedicated year-round. However, Ryan Aturaliya, a junior at East High School, keeps his game going all year. Aturaliya has played tennis since he was four. In the summer he plays for the Longview Tennis Club.
Playing two sports is no easy task. Excelling in both is even harder, although Maddy Schintz, a junior at Duluth East High School, manages pretty well. Schintz plays golf in the spring for the Greyhounds and hockey for the Duluth Northern Stars in the winter. Schintz was appointed captain for the upcoming golf season by her coach, Stuart Sorenson. "Maddy is a great kid who leads by example and makes sure everyone is included," Sorenson said. "She's very supportive and her teammates look up to her.
Chris Stingle, a junior at Duluth East high school, has taken snowboarding to the next level. Last year he took seventh place at the USA Snowboarding Association (USASA) national competition in Copper Mountain, Colo. "Out of the nation, 60 qualify," Stingle said.