Yesterday’s Field Day is the perfect cue for a letter about sport–a subject I don’t usually discuss with you. It might not be very obvious, but I am passionate about sports. Even though I still run regularly (despite an uncooperative knee), I must admit that my glory days are behind me. I am more of an armchair athlete nowadays (as Andria can testify–if it’s a sport and it is televised, I will watch it). My sporting “career” was punctuated by very few victories and a wide range of sprains and fractures of all sorts–I was a puny kid, ill-equipped for physical prowess on the icy, windy sports fields of the Ardèche.

Despite all that, my passion for sports is still intact. I love watching our Falcons, in their white and red shirts, leave school on Thursdays to play against other New York schools in the CONSAT League. But I’m not going to lie to you: our results are not as good as those for MAP Growth! I will refrain from sharing the League rankings here. Even though we have two wonderful coaches –Adam Blake Soden and Waylissa Knight– and despite our students being incredibly motivated, we still lose week in, week out–to the extent that it is beginning to affect the players’ morale. As Vincent, one of our parents, mentioned yesterday after the House vs. House tug of war, bruised egos can hurt more than actual bruises.

We’ve been brainstorming how to reverse the trend for the past few months. It is obvious that we don’t have the necessary space for our Falcons to train, and our teams are suffering as a result.  With that in mind, we have decided to rent gym space for the Falcons next year. The gym at Baruch that we use for 4th to 8th Grade sport classes during the day is not available after regular school hours, which is why we used our lovely, but small, Préau this year.  We hope that with a larger, better-equipped space to train, our students will be able to reveal the full extent of their talent. That decision was a sound and easy one to make, unlike the second, which we agonized over for weeks.

We eventually came to the conclusion that accepting every student who wants to join the Falcons teams, whatever their level and however many players that entails (25 students on the volleyball team, for example), is not a tenable approach. We have, therefore, decided to hold tryouts for next year’s Falcons squads.* Our school is growing; we see proof of it every day. It is going to continue to grow because our students are staying with us through Middle School, and classes that used to have the smallest number of students are now full. I have the impression that I promise you every week that our school spirit will remain unchanged in the face of this growth, and I believe that I am keeping my promise as we continue to offer an entirely unique experience for our students precisely because we have the ambition of a much bigger school.

For a long time, I claimed that the essence of The École lay in the fact that, amongst other things, if a student wanted to play basketball, all they had to do was tell us. But something struck me two weeks ago as I chaperoned our students to play in the Red Bull Arena. The PATH staff had been kind enough to reserve the first car on the train for us. The Boombox was connected two minutes after leaving the station, and everyone was dancing and singing. Three defeats later and a team photo full of strained smiles, the good vibes returned once we got back on the train.

Sport is definitely a way for our students to spend more time together. Now that our Middle School numbers are growing, it is time to give more consideration to that side of things, and to come up with more ways to give our students the opportunities they crave. After all, there are many ways to be part of a team.

Wishing you an excellent weekend!

*Rising 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade students and their parents will receive an email from the Sport Department outlining the format of the tryouts in the coming weeks.