By Brennan Horn
Participation in high school sports has increased nationally for the 28th year in a row. More than eight million high school students competed in numerous physical competitions in the 2016/2017 academic year. New Jersey ranks ninth in the country among high school sports participation, and Mendham student athletes are supporting the state’s high placement. Athletic Director, Ned Panfile, states that sports participation this year is close to last year’s numbers. With a high percentage of student athletes at Mendham, “Mendham students remain engaged in athletic competition year over year.”
Baseball and lacrosse are gaining interest at Mendham for boys’ and girls’ teams, respectively; however, track has the highest participation numbers at Mendham, as well as at the state level. Zach Hodges, a freshman at Mendham, is enjoying his first year competing on the track team. Hodges started running cross country in the seventh grade in Arkansas. When he moved to New Jersey, he enjoyed the Cross Country team so much that he decided to run Winter Track also. “I enjoy the atmosphere created by a team that holds themselves to such high standards,” Hodges said. “The senior leadership on the Cross Country and Track teams make the rest of the athletes feel more like a family where we are all looking out for each other.”
Panfile enjoys heading up the athletic program at Mendham. He explains that team sports unite more than just the students in a common goal. “Mendham Athletics brings people together, that includes athletes, parents, relatives and community.” He further clarified, “High school athletics are a way to compete and to achieve something together. We are trying to extend the classroom to competition.”
Audrey Sun, a freshman who runs cross country, echoes Panfile’s sentiments. “The community of the team and continued support allows the sport to become the highlight of the day.”
Team and coach information for athletic offerings ranging from fencing to field hockey are located on the athletic page of the school website. Participate and cheer on your fellow classmates as spring sports enter the homestretch of the season. Go Minutemen!