Sophomore Competes at Different School Due to Lack of Trap Program at Westside


Athletic success is something that is natural at Westside, and with over 15 varsity sports for boys and girls, it isn’t hard to see why. However, many sports are not sponsored by the school or the state, meaning that they have to create clubs that compete independently of the school. While many athletes who play non-sponsored sports still have a chance to compete, there are still some sports that don’t exist in any form here at Westside.

One of the sports that is both not-sponsored at the state level and also doesn’t have a club at Westside is trap shooting. This sport involves shooting a shotgun pellet at 50 clays launched from a house 16 yards away, with the goal being to hit as many of the clays as possible

For Sophomore Thomas Mann, trap shooting is one of his passions along with competing on the golf team here at Westside. He found out at a young age that trap shooting wasn’t just enjoyable to him, but that it may be something that he could do well in a competition.

“I remember getting a shotgun one year for Christmas and I ended up going out to the trap range to shoot,” Mann said. “I realized that I was pretty good at it and kept doing it for a while.”

However, Mann was disappointed that he couldn’t compete for his school due to there not being a club. Luckily for him, Thomas had a connection that gave him a shot to compete at trap shooting, even if it wasn’t for the school that he attended.

“One of my relatives coaches at Gross High and since Westside didn’t have a trap team themselves I joined theirs,” Mann said. “I contacted him and another coach and they were both all on board for it.”

That other coach that Mann contacted was Chris Horihan, the head trap coach at Gross Catholic. Although the idea that somebody who attends one school could compete for another without attending it may seem absurd, Horihan said that it is not only allowed, but much of his trap team doesn’t attend Gross. Horihan was more than willing to put Mann on his team.

“People from other schools, that do not have a team, can “transfer their eligibility” to any team that has a team,” Horihan said. “Besides the eight Gross shooters, we have two shooters from Ralston, one from Millard South, and Tom from Westside.”

While this combination of many schools reaching for the same goal may sound like an issue to some people, Horihan is confident in the team dynamic even if the athletes are taking classes at different schools.

“New shooters take some time get into the team dynamic, but we have a friendly group and it takes little to no time,” Horihan said.

The team tries to practice as much as they can, but this has proven to be difficult due to the varying schedules of the shooters. For Mann, being on the Westside golf team doesn’t help but he does his best to balance the two sports since they are in the same season.

“I try to practice as much as I can,” Mann said. “Normally our practices are Tuesday and Thursday. but I try to get out a couple of times a week.”

Joining the trap team at Gross has given Mann a chance to show off his skills on the range, resulting in major success. In this season alone, Mann has shot very well at many meets, including taking home first place from the 18-19 yard range at the Elkhorn Trap Meet.

Although Mann was lucky enough to get an opportunity to compete at a different school, he hopes that one-day Westside will have their own trap team for students to shoot in. Horihan says that it wouldn’t take much for the school to get on board with creating a club.

“Westside could certainly have its own team,” Horihan said. “Once they get over 5 shooters, then it would be worth considering.  In trap, you shoot in squads of five. So Westside would want at least five shooters to form a squad to be eligible for the team awards.”

Mann agrees with his coach but says that there may be some barriers to get over before Westside should seriously consider making it a club.

“The only hard thing is getting enough numbers for it,” Mann said. “A lot of kids don’t have a shotgun or the resources for it. It’s also a big time commitment for whoever is administering it which could also be an issue.”

Mann is more than just a great shooter on the trap team. Horihan says that he is looking forward to seeing Mann not only grow in terms of his sport but also as a person.

“He is a great kid,” Horihan said. “He is very intelligent, respectful, coachable and he will go on to do many great things in his life.  He has got it down and now is his time to shine.”