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PCA Seniors Conclude Impressive Seasons On and Off the Court

By PCA News Stories

Appreciating the Present

Senior year is filled with untamable anticipation for what’s to come. Sometimes, seniors can be so focused on the future that they miss what’s right in front of them. There are lots of “lasts” that come and go senior year that many students can leave unappreciated until long after they’re gone. Last trips to Subway for lunch, last bus rides home from away games, and last pre-game jitters are all moments that seniors, wrapped up in college selections and what they’re going to major in, and whether they’d like their college winters to be 9 or 89 degrees, can take for granted. This feeling of indifference can affect classroom performance as well–papers go unfinished, projects get put off, and high school begins to be a thing of the past before it’s really finished.

That’s not the case for PCA seniors, Joey Skubisz and Maddy Kniphfer. Enrolling at PCA in 5th grade, Maddy and Joey have become essential parts of the school’s student body. Joey is a Small Group Leader at the high school, a co-captain of this year’s varsity volleyball team, an Academic Prefect and a member of PCA’s Honors Orchestra. Maddy is also a small group leader and sits behind the plate as Varsity Softball’s starting catcher. While their athletic performances have garnered lots of attention this year, it’s the impact they’re making in the classroom that makes them truly special.

Joey and Maddy pose for Varsity Volleyball’s Media Day.

“Rarely have I seen a student so dedicated to overcoming challenges and reaching their potential.” says Maddy’s math teacher, Mrs. Shoemaker. “Every year she goes above and beyond to understand the concepts in our math classes. Her willingness to humble herself and seek help is a character trait I wish every student would have. Maddy is hard working, respectful, and passionate. She’s a role model to the younger female athletes at our school, and it’s been a joy for me to see her take that role seriously.”

“Joey and Maddy are exceptional, naturally gifted athletes but they bring much more to our program than their abilities to hit a volleyball.  They both have helped establish a culture within our program of caring, respect, hard work and, most importantly, glory to God.  They are leaders by example and play the game hard, leaving all effort out on the court.  They have earned the respect and admiration of their teammates, coaches, and opponents as evidenced by the various awards and accolades they have acquired.” says Varsity Volleyball coach, Kevin Carreiro.

“For the past 6 years, I have had the great joy and privilege of watching these young women grow in faith and mature into well-respected individuals.   Both of them are as passionate about the game of volleyball as they are about those they share the court with.  They have consistently placed the team’s goals first and the result was one of the most successful seasons in our program’s history.”

Skubisz and Kniphfer await the final point in this year’s NHIAA Division III Quarterfinal Match vs. Trinity High

Crushing It On the Court

Skubisz and Kniphfer not only uplifted their peers in the classroom, they also helped carry Varsity Volleyball to its first Final Four since 2007.

“Joey is a power hitter, fast and versatile.”, says Coach Carreiro of Skubisz. “She has an impressive vertical which allows her to contact the ball much higher than the opposing team’s block, allowing her to exploit the opponent’s defense.  She has spent much of her career as a defensive-minded middle-blocker and was quickly approaching the career blocks record.  Entering this season, we moved her to the outside to take advantage of her power as a hitter and consistent passing.   In doing so, she led the team offensively, nearly breaking the single-season kills record.”

“Maddy is also a speedy, well-rounded player with great versatility.  She has been a libero for most of her career tallying over 350 varsity digs.  She has tremendous court coverage and can get to virtually any ball that is hit to her side of the court.  This year she stepped into the role of setter and, in much the same way, she managed to track down nearly every second ball no matter where it was passed.  Her serving abilities have improved year after year and has become dominant to the point that she could take sole control of a set from the service line.”

Joey Skubisz hammers home a kill.

The two seniors were absolutely critical to the team’s regular season and postseason success, accumulating a lengthy list of accolades and accomplishments over the 2021 campaign.

Skubisz was named to the AVCA All-Region Team, becoming the first New Hampshire volleyball player to earn the recognition since its inception in 2006. She was named AVCA Player of the Week on two separate occasions, becoming the fourth player in school history to earn the recognition. joining Ashley Vining ’17, Becca Jones ’20 and most recently Lindsey Hatfield ’21.

Joey was also the first in school history to do it twice in one season.

Joey was also named the Granite State Conference Player of the Year for Division III, again, a first for PCA Volleyball. Finally, Joey finished her career as one of the best to ever do it at PCA, her 192 Season Kills and 364 Career Kills are the second all-time in school history.

Kniphfer was named to the Granite State Conference All-Conference Team for her efforts this season, finishing her volleyball career in possession of three school records. Kniphfer walks off the court for the last time as PCA’s record-holder in career aces with 201, season aces with 106, and season assists with 355.

Both seniors were named First-Team All-State by the New Hampshire Volleyball Coaches Association. Both were named Senior All-Stars in the state of New Hampshire. And, their 62 career matches are at the top of the all-time list at Portsmouth Christian Academy.

As icing on the cake, the 2021 Varsity Volleyball Team received the NHVCA Team Academic Award, maintaining above a 3.0 GPA. They also received the NHVCA Community Service Award for giving back through funds raised or hours of service completed during the 2021-2022 volleyball season.

Maddy Kniphfer sets for Joey Skubisz in NHIAA action

Reflecting on the Past

“Honestly it feels so amazing and exciting.”, says Kniphfer of holding 3 of the school’s all-time records.

“I would not be here if it wasn’t for my amazing coaches that have helped me grow in my skills. This year I was going in with an open mind. I was the libero for three years in a row, but, in club season I was a setter, so it opened up new horizons for our playing this year. Honestly, I have grown to love this new position.”

When asked what drew her to play volleyball in the first place, Maddy says, “Ever since I was little I always looked up to the high school volleyball team. Going to their practices and just watching, shagging volleyballs, and just talking with them. Since then, I just have found a love and a passion for the sport and found that it is a great outlet for me. My mom also used to be a volleyball coach, and I wanted to be like her, so that really helped spark my passion to play.”

Flashback: Then 8th-grader, Kniphfer waits for the serve on PCA’s varsity junior high team.

Flashback: Then 8th-grader, Joey serves on PCA’s varsity junior high team.

“To be completely honest, neither of these achievements were ones I was striving for.”, says Joey of her numerous recognitions. “I was just focused on pouring my heart out into the sport that I love. When Coach Kevin told me that I was up for Player of the Year, I was surprised that this was really something within my reach. After our loss to Newfound, the news of officially earning the title of Player of the Year was exactly what I needed to show me God’s ultimate plan, love, and authority. Not long after this, hearing about being named to the All-Region Team brought me an excitement that I couldn’t contain. All-Region was something I never thought to be achievable. Playing at a D3 school, our players don’t get a lot of coverage or recognition on that scale. I was extremely blessed to have a coach who is my, and every one of my teammates’, biggest supporter. He got my name out there and made sure that my abilities were known– and to him, and for God’s work through him, I am unspeakably grateful.”

“I originally played because all of my friends were playing. After a few years of playing solely for that reason, I fell in love with the sport. I had played every sport you could imagine, but I had never felt the way about any of them the way I do about volleyball. When I got to high school and played with Coach Kevin, my love grew to a passion, and it continues to grow every time I touch a volleyball.”

Preparing for the Future

While Joey and Maddy have had exceptional careers at PCA, they both know that graduation is quickly approaching. Both are continuing to work hard in the classroom to set themselves up for success. Maddy and Joey were both named the AVCA’s Best and Brightest, an award given to volleyball players across the nation who maintain above a 3.0, demonstrating excellence on and off the court. Maddy and Joey were the only two volleyball players in the state of New Hampshire to receive the award.

Looking back, both girls are extremely appreciative of their student-experiences at Portsmouth Christian Academy.

“One thing that I will miss is the special close knit community that we all have here. I am going to miss all of the loving and dedicated teachers and the family that I have built here. My best advice that I could give to the underclassmen would be to lean on your peers and know that you have a huge support system that can help you no matter what.”, says Maddy. “PCA has been a huge part of my academic success. They always push us to make sure we are successful in whatever we do. After I graduate, I want to go to college for social work. I am extremely excited what God has planned for me and my future.”

Joey, looking into the field of neuroscience, was unapologetic about her love of learning. “Unashamed to sound like a complete nerd, I love school and I love to learn. This really helps me with my academics. I try to go into each class with a mindset that is ready to learn. I spend a lot of time on school work, but it pays off in the end. My top choice for college is Yale, and I am eagerly hoping for an acceptance–although it is a reach. PCA is an amazing school, and an even better community. We are blessed with such a wonderful faculty and staff who pour their hearts into each and every student.”

Joey also gave some advice to underclassmen to not look past high school before it’s over. “Cherish every Brookwoods (trip), cheering with your class. Every homecoming event, dressing to impress. Every moment spent singing random songs in the senior lounge. Every moment spent together is a moment you’re going to miss when you’re looking towards graduation–so cherish them all.”

PCA Food Drive Collects 3047 Food Items In Partnership with End 68 Hours of Hunger

By Home News, PCA News Stories, PCA News

DOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE (November 3, 2021) – Throughout the month of October, Portsmouth Christian Academy (PCA) collected breakfast, lunch, and dinner items to help local families in need through the organization End 68 Hours of Hunger.

PCA’s annual End 68 Hours of Hunger food drive, spearheaded by the school’s seventh-grade class each year, previously only involved PCA’s Lower School (K-8). This year, the drive was extended school-wide to include both the Upper and Lower School.

“PCA's goal is to not only educate our students on the needs of our local community but also to provide students with opportunities to help meet those needs.”

Juliana Scott7th Grade Teacher

End 68 Hours of Hunger is a public non-profit effort created to confront the approximately 68 hours of hunger that some school children experience between the free lunch they receive in school Friday and the free breakfast they receive in school Monday. Students were encouraged to bring in items each week in partnership with the organization.

This past Friday, the 7th grade class gathered all food donations, collecting a total of 3047 items  which they delivered to the warehouse in Dover last week. PCA is proud and grateful to report that the school has been amongst the biggest donors in the region for the past couple of years.

Ranked the No. 1 Private K-12 School in New Hampshire by Niche 2019, 2020, and 2021 Best Schools, Portsmouth Christian Academy has been inspiring students on the Seacoast to maximize their potential for nearly 40 years. PCA provides a nurturing educational environment that emphasizes Christ-centered community, outstanding academics, differentiated learning and exceptional character. Located just minutes northwest of Portsmouth, on a 50-acre riverfront campus, PCA is a dually accredited, independent, college-preparatory day school where young people from preschool to Grade 12 are challenged to thrive academically and grow as servant-leaders prepared to affect the world for good. For information, visit pcaschool.org.

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2021 Fall Tryout Week Breakdown

By Home News, PCA News Stories, PCA News

Tryouts are Here

Portsmouth Christian Academy’s fall sports season has officially begun, with tryouts beginning for our Upper School athletes and coaches. Tryout Week brings out feelings of excitement for the upcoming season and maybe a little anxiety, as athletes meet new teammates, build relationships with coaches, and, for some, start playing the sport for the first time. Tryouts bring out opportunities for athletes to set the tone for the season early on. Upperclassmen will be building a foundation of support for their younger teammates, while motivating each player on the roster to give 100% on every rep.

Each athlete is also setting the tone for themselves. Tryout Week is when you gauge your ability, but it’s also when you gauge your commitment. Are you touching the line when coach makes you sprint? Are you taking reps off? Are you making sure your teammates are all on the same page? At the same time, coaches are looking for this year’s stand-out performers, leaders, and most coachable players.

Check out some preseason photos, below!

Building on Last Year’s Success

Our fall sports programs are coming off of strong performances from last season. Women’s Soccer returns to the pitch after a historic Final Four run in last year’s State Championship Tournament. Men’s Soccer hopes to build on a solid 9-3 record from last season. Our volleyball players step back onto the court with playoff experience under their belt, making a run that saw them reach the quarterfinal round of the NHIAA playoffs last season. Finally, our cross-country team looks to have another strong season this year, with several state championship-contenders returning to the trails this fall. As our athletes begin to develop chemistry with their teammates, and our coaches begin preparing their team physically and mentally for the upcoming season, let’s meet some of our student-athletes to watch for this season.

Student-Athlete Perspectives

Maddy Kniphfer | Senior | Volleyball

A true defensive specialist, Maddy Kniphfer has an impressive ability to cover the court and make sprawling saves, fueling the Eagles’ team performance. Kniphfer is also extremely versatile, filling many roles and needs throughout her volleyball career. Maddy is 5 aces shy of the 100 mark, leading the team last year with 44 on the season.  She currently sits at 264 digs all time.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Since we lost so many amazing players last year, I am looking forward to building new relationships with the upcoming players. I’m looking to improve my fundamental skills and grow physically and spiritually as a player.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I have high hopes for this season! I’m going in with an open mindset and high expectations.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m most excited for our season to return to its pre-covid self. Since I’m a senior, I’m excited to put my all on the court and enjoy my last season with the girls. Our biggest obstacles are going to be building our team’s chemistry with so many young players on the team.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I’d want PCA fans to know I’m dedicated to my team and determined to help us reach our full potential. I’m full of enthusiasm and aggression in every play.”

Joey Skubisz | Senior | Volleyball

Joey currently sits at 172 career kills and, based on what we can expect from her this season, she should find herself within the top 3 all-time.  Skubisz is also in striking distance of the career blocking record, with just 22 to go (currently sitting at 39). Joey brings a lot of power to PCA’s front row. Skubisz’ length and vertical makes her an impact-player on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Says Coach Carreiro of Skubisz, “I expect teams to have a difficult time hitting around her, and I know there is no shot of hitting through her.”

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“I would love to see improved communication skills. Last season was some of the best volleyball I’ve ever played. We had, and have, so many incredible players. However, if we nail down communication skills, we could be unstoppable.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I am just overflowing with excitement and enthusiasm. Volleyball is what I love to do, and my team is who I love to be with. The prospect of a new season of competition and the prospect of being able to have fans really lights a spark in me. I am so excited to see what everyone has to offer and how we can put a team together.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I am most excited to hear the encouragement from the bleachers and the celebration when we have a great play. It is such a blessing to have so much support throughout our season, especially having gone without that privilege last year. I think our biggest obstacle will be lack of experience as a team. We have a lot of new faces coming into this season, which is so amazing, but it also poses a challenge to be prepared in time for the season.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I am absolutely determined to make this season a fantastic one. I will hit the floor before that ball does and I will scream louder than anyone else in that gym. I am so excited to see this team come together and so happy to be a part of it.”

Caleb Runey | Senior | Men’s Soccer

Runey, a tall, athletic, multi-sport athlete, looks to lead the Eagles back line with his speed, toughness, and leadership qualities.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Team Chemistry. Last year we got burned first round of the playoffs. Hopefully this year we can bond together and play cohesively.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“We’ve got a lot of young guys this season. Our main goal is to get them up to speed and adjust to getting in shape and learn to keep up with the pace of the game.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m most excited for every guy on the roster. I think we all mesh together and enjoy being with each other. It’s going to be an obstacle to replace all of last year’s seniors on the field.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I leave it all out on the field. I want to show these guys what it looks like to hustle to make a play, and to be unselfish on the field. To see my teammates succeed is my ultimate goal, and I try to help them out by beating the other team to the ball on defense, which sets up my players on offense.”

Dylan Thyng | Senior | Men’s Soccer

A quick, experienced player with great ball control, Dylan Thyng looks to be an incremental part of PCA’s defensive line this season, with the ability to move the ball up the field to set up the PCA attack.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Coming off last year, personally, I’m trying to play more aggressively. But, I’m also trying to be more of a team player on the field.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I want to be aggressive. I’m working hard to have a great senior season.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m excited this season to be a leader on the team. I want to be a great example to the guys, both on and off the field. The biggest obstacle we’ll face this season will be having a young team, but that really isn’t an obstacle–we can improve, learn, and grow.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I’m an aggressive player, always looking to win. I love being on the field, playing with the guys, and getting to know them better. Soccer isn’t just a sport for me. This team is my family.”

Sierra Lignos | Junior | Women’s Soccer

Lignos is one of the fastest players on PCA’s roster this season. With Jewel Young having graduated last year, Lignos will be expected to help anchor the Eagles’ back-line this season.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“I’m looking to improve my confidence in games. I also want to improve my pace of play and decision-making”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I’m looking to improve and I’m excited for this season. The team has worked hard this summer, so it’s exciting to see everyone come together, officially.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m excited to see how the team works together. The biggest obstacle will be bringing our new players up to speed.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I hope that people will see that I’m an encouraging teammate and that I’m willing to go to the ball and be aggressive.”

Lula Wamberg | Junior | Women’s Soccer

Returning as PCA’s second-leading goal-scorer last season, Wamberg will be expected to lead the Eagles’ attack this season.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Personally, I’m looking to improve my skills and change of speed.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I’m very excited to begin the season and hope to see everyone improve. This season, I’m hoping to make it to the finals, as we made it to the semifinals last season.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m most excited to see how we come together as a team. In years past, we have become one big family and I can’t wait to see it with this new team. This year’s obstacle will be developing chemistry on the field early on, since we’ve lost some important players from last year’s team.”

Luke O’Halloran | Junior | Cross Country

O’Halloran finished first in the majority of PCA’s meets last season, putting him in the drivers’ seat for being one of the top cross country runners to watch for 2021. O’Halloran’s lifetime 5KM PR of 17:30 stacks up very well in this year’s field. Luke is also this year’s team captain.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Coming off of last season I struggled with keeping a competitive pace through hot weather. I’m looking to improve on my ability to run in difficult weather condition.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“My mentality so far is trying to take advantage of the preseason to improve and build myself back up to the best I can be for this upcoming season.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m most excited to be able to run with my friends and welcome the new runners to our team. I don’t think there will be many difficult obstacles this season, because I have faith that our coach will prepare us well.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“Something the PCA community might not know about me is that I love to hear cheering and encouragement from supporters and spectators.”

Brianna Malone | Junior | Cross Country

Brianna returns to the trails this fall as reigning Division 3 State Champion in Cross Country. Malone also added another state championship in the 400m and runner-up in the 800m in her exceptional Spring Track season. Undoubtedly, she is expected to be very strong again this season. Using last year’s state championship time, Malone has more than a 30 second lead on the next competitor. Her 5KM PR of 18:39 puts her among the best in New Hampshire. In addition to her running ability, Brianna is a one of the women’s co-captains.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“This season I’m trying to improve my mental game. Last season was really hard to be motivated to keep going.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“My mentality going into summer workouts is to push myself hard enough to maintain my fitness without burning out before the season starts.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m really excited to have a normal season without staggered starts and masks and whatnot. I agree with Luke about the obstacles we’ll face.”

PCA Celebrates Student Accomplishments at Lower School Awards and Milestone Ceremonies   

By PCA News Stories
Journeying through the 2020-2021 school year has not been for the faint of heart. From executing Enhanced Hybrid Learning to remembering to wear your mask, and remembering to screen each morning, the year has certainly not been short of challenges. This, in addition to the responsibilities that already come with being a student during a non-covid year. Despite all that, the 2020-2021 school year has come to a close, and we have learned, grown, and accomplished much.

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Then and Now: PCA Class of 2021 Seniors in Preschool

By PCA News Stories

Portsmouth Christian Academy loves to see its students grow. Whether it be academically, spiritually, as athletes, or as artists, our students continue to learn, develop, and thrive over the years!

… And it warms our hearts to see how much our class of 2021 has grown over the 14 years since being in PCA preschool!

Can you guess who’s who? Scroll down to find out!

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