July 24, 2015
Today, Brian Sharp and James Johnson have written an excellent article on the value sports provides to city students with a focus on Monroe Coach Jason Muhammad. Based on my experience in the RCSD, I concur with all their points which deserve amplification. Democrat and Chronicle/Rochester continues to expand school sports programs/
Specifically, I first met Coach Muhammad even before his Modified team was officially born, quickly learning about his passionate belief in the powerful, transformative impact football can and does have on the lives of youth.
To publicize the resurgent program, we did a post on the last time the Red Jackets fielded a varsity squad back in 1987. We scanned pictures from an old yearbook, and Jason retrieved an old team jersey and helmet. In terms of SHARES and COMMENTS, the post was by far the most successful. I was overwhelmed by the comments from older players who were inspired by both football and Coach Muhammad.
I also had the chance to write on the retirement of East’s Coach Paul Brigandi who won championships while always putting academics and life goals first. During the course of making the post, the number of people who came forward to say that Paul had changed their lives for the better was again overwhelming.
My passion is baseball (and chess, more of that shortly). When East baseball Coach Kyle Crandall and I first met, his team was about to leave for a road trip to play ball in Pittsburgh. A road trip might not seem like a big deal, but RCAC baseball teams rarely get the opportunity to play outside Rochester and a few surrounding counties. In making this and subsequent trips possible, I learned of Kyle’s (with brother Brett often at his side) dedication to not just winning titles, which East has, but to building a foundation–hard work, self-control, teamwork–for lifetime success.
To see the connection between athletics and academic success, look no further than SOTA’s Kenny Cruz. Kenny is not only one of the hottest local baseball prospects since Cito Culver and Ernie Clement, but when we first met, Kenny had the highest GPA in the entire District. Or see Wilson’s Owen Gabbey who gained a Rochester Promise scholarship to the University of Rochester and now plays for the Yellowjackets.
Finally, city chess is increasingly gaining in popularity. Whether you want to call chess a sport (the Olympics does) or not, participation can provide students with a similar experience found on other teams. At All City High, chess was popular before, during (lunch time tournaments) and after school. A whole community has coalesced around the Wilson Wildcats team. My own fondest memories of high school were my time as a Brighton Baron on the chess team.
Sports works for RCSD students.
Tagged All City, athletic participation in school, city chess, East High, James Monroe High School, Jason Muhammad, Kenny Cruz, Kyle Crandall, Owen Gabbey, Paul Brigandi, RCSD, Rochester Area Chess League, rochester city athletic conference, Rochester Promise Scholarship, school of the arts, University of Rochester, Wilson Foundation Academy, Wilson Magnet High School