Getty fire impacts athletes’ practice, game schedules


Photo credit: Kim Smith

Athletes, including sophomores Naya Ben-Meir and Vaughan Anoa’i and eighth grader Julissa Cach practice their sports. Varsity Tennis, Varsity and Middle School Volleyball, Cross Country and Middle School Swim were all affected by the Getty fire, which left many students evacuated from October 28 to October 31. Photos courtesy of Archer Athletics. Photo editing by Rio Hundley

Archer remained closed and in the evacuation zone from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31 due to the Getty fire. This impacted multiple sports teams’ practice and game schedules. The Oracle sat down with the six sports teams that are still in their fall season to discuss how the players were affected.

Varsity tennis 

Junior Eva Dembo mentioned that varsity tennis missed “important” practices leading up to their last few Liberty League matches during the week of the fire. Freshman Emma Frank also commented on the lack of practice, saying one teammate had not played in two weeks. Despite this, Frank believes missing practice did “not really” affect the team.

“I think everyone did fine, but it was just a matter of nervousness and stress with the matches,” Frank said. 

Some of the team’s Liberty League matches, previously scheduled for Oct. 30 and 31, were moved to Nov. 4.

“For one match [on Oct. 24], … we were at Balboa Park and we could see the smoke,” Frank said. “We ended up having to get evacuated because of how bad it was.”

Despite the Getty fire, junior Lexie Ben-Meir will be advancing to CIF State on Nov. 24 in singles. Sophomore Naya Ben-Meir, junior Chloe Richards and seniors Hannah Katzenstein and Chloe Eshel will be advancing in doubles.

Junior Lexie Ben-Meir walks at a varsity tennis match. Ben-Meir has been named the Liberty League Most Valuable Player #1 singles. This is the first time an Archer tennis player has received this distinction.

Middle school swim

Middle school swim’s Pacific Basin League Finals were first postponed from Nov. 2 to the following week. Soon after, the meet was cancelled entirely. Archer’s middle school swimmers will not be able to compete in the final, which Coach Stephanie Ferri identified as the only official indicator of the team’s success.

“It was so disappointing,” Ferri said. “All the work that the girls put in …. there was no showcase of it.”

Ferri said that she “fought hard” for some official showcase, but was unable to convince the league to reschedule.

“It’s out of our hands, so we made the best of it,” Ferri said. “It doesn’t take away from what we’ve achieved. And we’ll just come back hungrier for it next year.”

Eighth grader Stephanie Harrison echoed this sentiment, saying she believes that the team’s “family” dynamic and success was not affected by the fires.

“The work that everyone did still shines as bright,” Harrison said. “Everyone improved a crazy amount, including myself. The championships being gone…doesn’t change the fact that we were growing as a team, and the fact that we’re still together.”

Varsity cross country

The varsity cross country team had all its practices cancelled from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31. Senior Sophie Larbalestier shared that the missed practices put the team at a “disadvantage” since it was the week before their league final on Nov. 7.

“We have trained so hard all season, and then to miss the week before [the final league meet] was a little bit frustrating,”  Larbalestier said.

Larbalestier also mentioned that two girls on the cross country team were evacuated due to the fires.

“I think they were a little bit overwhelmed, and then having to work out too [seemed like] ‘How do I find the time?'” Larbalestier said.

Photo credit: Kim Smith
Cross country captain Sophie Larbalestier at her senior night. Despite the cross country team’s final league meet being rescheduled and missing practices due to the Getty fires, the team came second in the Liberty League and will be advancing to CIF Southern Section Preliminaries.

Despite the cancelled practices and reduced training time, Larbalestier shared that “[the team] worked really hard” the following week and she believes that the team is going to do great [in their final league].”

Since then, the team has won second place in the Liberty League and will be advancing to CIF Southern Section Preliminaries on Nov. 16.

Varsity volleyball

The Getty fire occurred during the week of varsity volleyball’s CIF Southern Section quarter final game against Sultana High School. The team’s practice routine changed throughout the week because of the fires, according to senior Andrea Campos.

“The first day the fires happened, we could not have practice because the air quality was so bad,” Campos said. “The next day we tried to have practice, [but] there was a lot of traffic, so it was really hard for a lot of girls to get to practice. … A lot of other girls were evacuated as well, so it was hard for them.”

Senior Alizeh Jarrahy was one of the multiple players who was evacuated from their homes and missed practice throughout the week. She said this “threw off the team a little bit.” However, both players agreed that the team “got right back into it” and “persisted.” The team won 3-0.

“Thankfully, we won the game and after that we did not have much more disruptions because of the fires,” Campos said. “It was just that one game for quarter finals.”

The team is a CIF semi-finalist and qualified for CIF SoCal Regionals. The team members will be playing Maranatha Christian on Nov. 12.

Middle school volleyball (purple team)

The middle school volleyball purple team’s first round of playoffs against Westchester Lutheran Middle School was pushed from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4 due to the fires. Eighth grader Estella Ugebor said that because of the fires, the team did not get to practice last week.

“We haven’t played basically in one week except for those who play outside of school so thats been kind of weird — trying to get the team balance together and make sure we are unified together, getting into that groove,” Ugebor said.

Ugebor also mentioned the Palisades Fire that started on October 21 and was declared 100% contained by the Los Angeles Fire Department on Nov. 5. She said it affected their “team spirit,” but the members are “doing better now.”

“When we were playing there was ash falling into people’s eyes and people were coughing,” Ugebor said. “Two girls had to go home because their homes were close to the fire.”

The team has since beat Westchester Lutheran Middle School on the rescheduled date and Willows Middle School on Nov. 6. The team was defeated at playoffs by St. Paul the Apostle on Nov. 8.

Middle school volleyball (green team)

The middle school volleyball green team’s first round of playoffs were also pushed back due to the fire. The game scheduled for Oct. 28 against Windward Royal was pushed to Nov. 4. Sixth grader Shayla Covington said that the team did not have practice while Archer remained closed but were “still able to practice at home.”

The team has since beat Windward Royal and will be advancing to the Pacific Basin League playoffs.

This article is part of an Oracle series about the impact of the Getty fire on the community.