Athlete Moments


Sukhpreet Johal , Class of 2026

West Park’s fall sports are now coming to an end and winter sports are about to begin. Athletes from West Park are extremely gifted; they put in a lot of effort, work extremely hard, and they have a great time, which leads them to surpass many memorable milestones.

On August 19, 2022, the West Park Varsity Panthers ran down the field with their game faces on. Everyone in the Claw section has their spirit gear on and is ready for this night to begin. As the first game of the football season begins, the Claw sections start their chant. “I…” everyone yells “I believe…” The Claw section continues to yell the chant and keep it going until they finish the phrase “I believe that we will win.” Throughout the game, the Claw sections continue to keep their spirit alive while their athletes are out on the field doing wonderfully.

The night ended, and the West Park Panthers won against Laguna Creek. With the score being 70-40, the Panther played amazing that night and continued too, til the season went to an end.

Freshman Taylor Harrington expressed her thoughts about that night, “They played well, and the team did a great job especially since West Park was newly opened.”

Senior Luly Plaza is on the West Park High School dance team. She is the director of publicity, which is the person that controls the social media accounts and advertisements. She has been dancing since she was 3 years old. She started dancing because her mom had signed her up, which led her to have a passion for it.

Not only were the football players the only stars on that field that night, but so was the dance team. Performing for halftime, they were dressed up in their blue sparkling dress, with their hair put up with a white bow in the back. They walked out on the field with confidence and danced the night away, the dance team did beyond amazing.

“I like it because of the way it makes me relax,” Plaza stated. “It’s a way to be with my friends and something to do outside of school.” She has turned to dance whenever she needs to get out of reality, “I’ve been doing it my whole life, it’s all I’ve ever known.”

One of Plaza’s most memorable and proudest moments of hers is,”…our first home football game performance.”

“I felt really happy and kind of sad because I was going to miss the energy of football season.” expressed Plaza. “In my head, I was thinking of not screwing up my halftime performance and living in the moment and enjoying everything happening.”

Although that is one of Plaza’s best events, and proudest accomplishment this season, she has that little voice in her head that can sometimes get overwhelming, “I sort of feel pressured because I always want to top that moment. But I am confident in our company topping every performance..” Said Plaza.

She mentioned that if she could make any changes to that best time of hers, she wouldn’t, “I would not make any changes because I feel like it was a really good first game and it grew the bond of our company. It was a good way to start the season.”

Plaza has some new goals and accomplishments she wants to complete before the dance season is over, one of them is performing well-choreographed dances resulting in support from her audience.

Plaza said, “To always perform a really good routine that the audience will enjoy and gain more supporters for our company.”
This moment holds a very special place in Plaza’s heart, “It was so special about it because it was the first time performing with all 4 classes in the dance company’s history. It was also so special for the Seniors because it was our last first football game.”

Freshman Jonathan Brooks plays on West Park’s freshman football team. Currently, the frosh team has been unstoppable and undefeated, going 8-0. They recently competed against Placer, resulting in taking the win with a score of 32-20. They just played their last game against Lincoln on October 27, they won the game leaving them undefeated at the end of the season 9-0.

Brooks started playing football last year, he plays as a nose guard and left guard. He enjoys playing because of how his team has been like a family to him. What got him into the sport, and to start playing is he always wanted to play tackle football.

“I am most proud of getting sacks and tackles, it is special because it was my first season in high school and I did well.”

Brooks mentioned that he didn’t realize what had happened till afterward, he didn’t comprehend just yet. “Nothing was going through my mind, it was just in the moment. I didn’t feel anything until after the game and I was excited”, Brooks stated.

Brooks mentioned that he would not change anything because he succeeded. He made it and was happy for himself and forgot where he was at that moment.

Although Brook has made amazing accomplishments, he feels strongly pressured especially being nose guard and left guard. “I always feel pressured because I play a big part on the defense, so if I make a mistake it could result in them getting a big play”, Stated Brooks.

Brook wishes to continue getting better and getting more tackles and sacks throughout his time playing football.

Some people that motivate him to continue and to accomplish this goal are, “…the people that are always by my side during these moments are my parents and the players on defense that I am close to.”

Emil Zátopek, a long-distance runner from the Czech Republic, is most remembered for his three gold medals at the Helsinki Summer Olympics in 1952. His final medal came after he made the last-minute decision to run in his first marathon. He had already won gold in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter events.

“An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head”, Said Emil Zatopek. Zapotek’s advice can help any athlete who wants to have memorable moments like Plaza and Brooks: effort, confidence, and self-confidence are the keys to meaningful experiences.