Our Moment of Choice: The State of TKC Athletics
Our school has a rich history in athletics. During our days at Briarcliff Manor, athletes competed in what is now the highly recognized National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 2, where some went on to become professionals in the NBA, MLB, PGA, and other professional sports organizations. We even had an alumnus play with NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain! It is because of this history that we should continue growing our support for TKC Athletics. Our Men's Basketball program went from winning only two games in its first varsity season to ending this past season 7-9 (6-2 going into winter break). 7-9 is the best record for the team since becoming a varsity sport at King's in Manhattan. Last season, Women's Soccer competed and made their way to the HVIAC championship game, where they came in 2nd place—the best season they've had since becoming a varsity sport in Manhattan. Additionally, Women's Volleyball made the playoffs for the first time.
Accomplishments like these bring joy to the athletic community but seem to go unappreciated by our student body in its entirety. Despite making up the largest group of students (more than any house or club), Athletics receives the least attention. As President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), I speak for the athletes on this one: we are extremely discouraged to put so much effort, sacrifice, and commitment into representing the school on the courts and fields only to have our sacrifice be ignored in the halls of the school.
As TKC Athletics continues to grow, we are at a point where it is necessary for the student body to recognize Athletic's important role in our community. SAAC's creation was to support TKC athletes and that is what it continues to do on our campus. I have had the pleasure in leading this charge but none of it was possible without the support of the rest of the team* on the committee. They work hard to give Athletics a voice on campus. However, there is more work that needs to be done.
So I ask you, how much does Athletics matter to this school? Our student body has changed since my freshman year. We have successfully gone from people not even knowing we have Athletics to a handful of people continually showing up to support and cheer our teams on from the stands. Today there is a silent, growing support for Athletics. We are now a school where people will actually consider attending these events. While some argue Athletics will never be important to an academic school such as King’s, I point to this growth as evidence of an opportunity to make Athletics matter again.
Still, you may find yourself asking, “Why should we work harder to support Athletics at King’s?” Allow me to lay out two more reasons. First, if you look at the successful academic colleges around the country where students feel proud to be a student at that college (such as Stanford, BYU, Duke, Purdue), you will find that behind that pride is a successful and supported athletic program. Athletics is the most effective method to develop school spirit and pride for current students. While our program may not produce the next NBA, MLB, or PGA professionals, we still find much success in our division today and that is worthy of support. Second, the alumni of King’s value Athletics more than you think. Last year, I had the pleasure to speak with an alumni athlete in Tennessee. He believes the disconnect from King’s time at Briarcliff Manor to Manhattan stems from the lack of athletic support. If the student body supported Athletics then it becomes possible to reconnect with alumni. We should feel proud of our success now, as well as the success of our alumni.
I know that more support is possible. I witnessed it my freshman year at the last game of the basketball season, when more than 50 people showed up to support us against our rival, Cooper Union. This year I saw it again when students, faculty and staff came out to support the Men’s and Women's basketball teams on senior night. These success stories will only happen again if our school focuses on advertising games, when students (along with staff and faculty) encourage one another to attend the games and when our community replaces its pessimistic attitude against Athletics with optimism.
Our school should value Athletics because it fosters school pride and builds community. The student body as a whole should be able to say with confidence, "athletics matters,” just as they are able to say, “student organizations matter.” I look forward to supporting a Student Body President candidate that will work to bring the athletics community and the King’s community together so that we can all feel proud to call ourselves The King’s College Lions.
*Victoria Li, Isaiah Contu-Owen, Hannah Lezak, Anna Eaves, Kylie Locklar, Kara Simmons, Josh Hinen, James Brooks, Simeon Marklin, Rolando Nieves Jr., Caleb Trouwborst, Caitlin Essex, Victoria McAlister, Nick Beckman.