Novotny helped Sage Hill top rival

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Sophomore's free kick allowed Lightning to beat Tartans for first time in six years.

January 31, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Sage Hill School girls' soccer player Claire Novotny is the Daily Pilot HIgh School Athlete of the Week.
Sage Hill School girls' soccer player Claire Novotny… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

The Hawaiian culture is very meaningful for Sage Hill School sophomore Claire Novotny, whose mother, Debbie, is from the islands.

The family went to Roy's, a Hawaiian fusion restaurant in Fashion Island, to celebrate Claire turning 16 a couple of weeks back. The next day, Claire received a Paradise cake, a light sponge cake that's another Hawaiian tradition.

Combine that with the fact that Claire's father Lance, a Latin teacher at Sage Hill, is from Idaho. The thought makes Claire giggle.

"[My mom] married a 'haole,'" Claire Novotny said. "I think it's a Hawaiian term for 'white boy.' Whenever we see my grandparents, her parents, it's like, 'Oh yeah, Debbie married a haole.'"

When Claire was much younger, Debbie even had her oldest daughter take up hula dancing. Again, Claire begins to giggle when she thinks of it. But it wasn't for her.


"I hated that, because it was, like, forced," Claire Novotny said. "As a kid, you don't want to be confined to doing dance steps. That was my opinion. I wanted to run around on the field and do my own thing. I do kind of regret stopping, because not that many people do it and it's very cultural and traditional."

Another tradition that Claire is familiar with is rival St. Margaret's beating Sage Hill in Academy League girls' soccer. It seems to happen twice every year.

This year, Claire, a sophomore center midfielder, helped put an end to that.

The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week scored on a free kick in the 73rd minute at home, the game-winning goal as the Lightning bested the rival Tartans, 2-1, on Jan. 24 at home. It was Sage Hill's first win over St. Margaret's since 2008, the year the Lightning won the only league title in program history. This year's win also marked the first time the Lightning had ever scored more than one goal against its rival.

Novotny volleyed her direct strike, from the right side and just outside the box, across the goal and into the upper-left corner.

"I was really nervous," she said of her second goal of the season. "I thought, 'I'm going to blow it,' because I've done that before. [Junior teammate] Paige Burke [who scored the other Sage Hill goal] was standing by the ball when I was walking up to it. I was like, 'Paige, I can't do this! This is so much pressure!'"

Novotny did it. Several minutes later, the Lightning had the win they'd been waiting on for years.

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