Stuyvesant’s claim to fame is its reputation as one of the top academic high schools in the country. Its strongest teams are all academic: math, chess, Speech and Debate. However, hidden behind the many academic accolades, Stuyvesant’s athletic program has been one of the best in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL).
Stuyvesant claimed three PSAL City Championships this year: boys’ cross country, boys’ fencing and girls’ fencing. That placed Stuyvesant in a four-way tie with Curtis, Benjamin Cardozo and Midwood High Schools for the second most titles. Tottenville High School, with five city championship teams, won the most PSAL titles.
Stuyvesant’s success this past year went beyond its championship teams. Of the 22 varsity sports Stuyvesant participates in that have a playoff system, 17 of the teams made the playoffs. Stuyvesant’s ability to excel at a wide variety of sports separates it from other schools that focus more on one or two sports, such as Abraham Lincoln or Murry Bergtraum, whose basketball programs, boys and girls respectively, have received national recognition.
Stuyvesant’s athletic excellence extends beyond this year. When asked if Stuyvesant has had comparable success in the past, physical education teacher and girls’ volleyball coach Phillip Fisher said, “In my sixteen years, absolutely.” Fisher is currently the coach of the girls’ volleyball and boys’ basketball team and has been an integral part of Stuyvesant’s athletic program; the girls’ volleyball team has not lost a league match in this decade.
Sadly, most of the city—and most of our school—is completely oblivious to our successes outside the classroom. “I don’t think it is a major focus of the administration,” Fisher said.
Stuyvesant’s athletic program can only improve in the years to come. Stuyvesant is admitting even more freshmen than usual next year. Nine-hundred new freshmen will cause gridlock on the stairs, and the school will have to buy more lockers. For coaches, the large influx of new students means an unprecedented level of new talent to choose from. If Stuyvesant wants to continue the success of the past decade, it will need to attract young, dedicated coaches. Coaches new to Stuyvesant should be pleasantly surprised: although Stuyvesant is known mainly for its academics, students have a penchant for putting all their effort into everything they do. “We have the work ethic and commitment,” Fisher said. It should not be surprising that talented students can be good athletes. Competition is at the heart of athletics and academics. Both require an attention to detail and an emphasis on repetition. Contrary to the popular stereotype, smart kids can play sports.