talk to… kacie frost
Villa Duchesne junior Kacie Frost has evolved from a little girl playing soccer for fun to a standout athlete being recruited at the collegiate level. She’s played varsity since her freshman year, and while winning is always nice, she’s still out there having a good time.

Q | When did you start playing?
A | I was 4 or 5 and played through Ascension in Chesterfield. My parents signed me up for a lot of different sports to see what I was interested in.

Q | You obviously liked soccer! Why?
A | I like that it has such a fast pace; you’re always moving. And I really enjoy the team aspect. Everyone has to contribute to do good work as a team.

Q | What position do you play?
A | I’ve rotated throughout the years. Now I’m playing defense for my club team and midfield for high school.

Q | What club team are you on?
A | St. Louis Scott Gallagher Premier. We practice two or three times a week and have weekend games and tournaments during our season, which begins in the summer and lasts until the school season starts. We won the State Cup three years in a row and took third place last year. This past year we played in the National Premier League, which is a more competitive league that travels around the region.

Q | What are the goals for the Villa team this season?
A | To get as far as we can and just hope for the best. The past couple of seasons we had a really hard schedule and ended up losing last year at Districts. We hope to compete a little better this year and make it as many games as we can at Districts.

Q | You’ve committed to Murray St ate?
A | Yes, I made my decision at the end of February. I went to a camp there during winter break and they asked me to visit after that. I really like all the girls and the coaches, and the campus is nice. It’s a good match for me.

hard throw: sophia rivera
It started as just something to do with her best friend in fifth grade, and now Sophia Rivera is known across the country for her skills with the javelin, as well as the shot put and discus. The junior at Brentwood High School, who also plays softball and basketball, had just returned from visiting top universities in California (who are actively recruiting her) when T&S spoke with her about being a triple threat on the track and field team.

“I waSport_Sophia-Riveras on a track club team when we lived in New Jersey, and they needed someone to throw javelin, so I said I would. I’ve loved it ever since,” Rivera explains. “We moved here when I was in the sixth grade, and my current coach got me into shot put and discus. But the javelin is still my favorite.” It’s obvious Rivera knows her sports; she can easily describe the movements and techniques that differentiate each type of throw, along with the weight of each object. “The best part is the throwing itself,” she admits. “But working out is fun because I know it makes me better. I get excited to work harder to establish more power behind my throws.”

Rivera, who is ranked No. 6 out of all U.S. high school students in javelin, works with a personal trainer twice a week, focusing on strength training and weight lifting; squats help with leg strength, and core exercises help with stability during a throw. She has throwing practice five days a week with her high school team to work on footwork and form. “I’ll run on my own, too, and I often meet with my personal coach on Sundays,” she explains. “He and my trainer discuss what I need to work on and where I’ve improved.”

Rivera’s success can be attributed to her hard work and dedication. She was the state champion in shot put and discus the past two years. And she was selected by the National Scholastic Athletic Foundation as one of eight throwers in the country for the Kultan Kiehas Javelin Development Program, where students are chosen to attend specialized camps, participate in track meets and receive elite training. “Last summer, we went to the U.S. Olympic training center in Chula Vista, California, and to Finland (well-known for the sport) to train with the country’s junior national coach,” she says.

She admits being recruited heavily is a bit overwhelming but exciting. “It’s amazing that so many people know who I am,” she says. “I’m open at this point and just ready to talk to coaches and plan more visits.”

Sport_Nate-VonderHaardouble duty: nate vonderhaar
It’s not fair to describe Nate VonderHaar as a star athlete in only one sport. He excelled on both the basketball court and football field this year at Priory—and loved them both. “I could never choose a favorite,” he says. “I enjoy each for different reasons.”

His senior year began with football, a sport he hadn’t played since eighth grade. “When I started high school, I wanted to focus on basketball, so I put all my efforts into that,” VonderHaar explains. “And then the football coaches and my friends convinced me to play this year. I’m so thankful for their encouragement because it really opened a lot of doors.” Such as being noticed by Georgetown University, where he recently signed to play this fall. “It’s an amazing school and football program; I can’t wait to get there.” This season he played tight end and sometimes defensive end since there were only 22 players on the team. “It could get exhausting,” he admits. “But shifting from basketball to the tight end position was actually easier than I thought it would be. A lot of great athletes have done it, and I was happy to be so successful.” Priory’s season ended in a loss to Westminster during Districts.

VonderHaar continued to stand out as an athlete on the basketball court. The 6-foot 7-inch senior helped lead the team to a winning record of 21-6, among the best in school history. “That was due to great coaching and just a great team effort,” he says. “Coach McCormack was instrumental to our success; he’s a big reason we were able to win so many games.”

The 18-year-old started playing basketball in elementary school and has always enjoyed the fast pace of the game. He played on the Falcons select team in middle school and with the Machine Elite Basketball Academy the summers after his sophomore and junior year. “One of the coaches there, David Johnson, has been a great mentor the majority of my life. He’s trained me in basketball, and a lot of my success is due to him.” While VonderHaar is quick to attribute his remarkable athleticism to teammates, coaches and fan support, it’s obvious there’s a lot of natural talent involved. Which is a large part of why he was unanimously voted Varsity Basketball Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. “Priory plays in a competitive league, so there are lots of great players. I’m just grateful I was considered,” he says.