By Joseph Russo
The following article appeared in the October 2019 edition of The Campus.
Many students have most likely received an email, or seen a poster around campus, encouraging them to try out for our D-III sports teams. Even though athletic clubs on campus are allowing prospective players to try out, some team rosters are just not filling up. The Campus had a chance to talk with Melanie Torres of the Women’s Basketball team and Richard Kish of the Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track team to figure out why team membership numbers aren’t there.
If students wander around the North Academic Center (NAC), they will perhaps take notice of some of The City College of New York’s (CCNY) many bulletin boards. Scattered amongst the various notes, one would stumble across a poster pushing them to join a CCNY sports team.
Some might find it confusing that a school that had won the NCAA Basketball Tournament in 1950 would have a difficult time finding motivated students to participate in its various sports teams available today. However, such a reality may seem plausible for many external factors such as commuting time, difficult and strenuous academic work, and a lack of time in general. To gain more insight into this strange phenomenon, two separate interviews were conducted with student athletes Richard Kish and Melanie Torres.
When asked why she wasn’t noticing more girls trying out for the basketball team, Torres stated, “It’s because most girls don’t know what the season is like, and some girls even think to join when it’s too late. They just don’t ask questions.” When asked the same question, Kish noted that despite the “welcoming to walk-ons” attitude in the sports he’s involved in, there is a lack of initial communication. He stated, “There needs to be that proactive first step of reaching out to the coaches to talk.”
Though it may seem like there is a lack in sports participation at CCNY, not all student athletes call it quits after high school; Torres and Kish are shining examples of students that can balance the ‘holy college trifecta’- maintaining a social life, completing schoolwork, and attending all of the team’s practices.
The coaches are aware of the students’ situations as well, as practices are molded to accommodate teammates who live far away. Kish revealed, “I’m commuting 70 miles away, and Coach Murray understands if I’m not on time to every practice. Students may be scared of the commitment of sports, it’s a lot less strict than what you would find in a DI or DII school.”
Though playing a sport at the collegiate level does require a lot of time, there are massive benefits to joining a team. Kish and Torres explained that being a member of a team is like joining a community, where team bonding consists of watching game tapes with teammates and hanging out after practices. As Kish stated, “These aren’t going to be the people you merely network with, but the people you’re going to remember for the rest of your life.”
Both Kish and Torres had advice for incoming freshmen or any students looking to join the team; Torres stated, “It’s really a fun opportunity, and a whole different competition than high school too. If you think you’re not good enough… just keep your head up and keep pushing because you’ll only get better.” Persistence and practice are the keys to many things in life, and basketball and track are not different.
Kish recommended to, “Communicate with your teammates, coaches, and athletic department… you may be able to not only find friends, but it’s also a great networking opportunity. I was also able to get a job from a referral by a teammate, whom I am happy to say is one of my best friends to this day.” Kish also noted that one of his favorite memories came from his freshman year indoor track season. He recalled that he, “Came onto the team about as skinny as skinny could get, but I trained a lot throughout the year. Coach had put me in many events during the final meet (CUNYAC Championship). Long story short, we ended up winning the meet, and I was awarded the MVP for the meet, meaning I scored more points than any competitor.”
Being a member of a sports team in college is an all-around demanding opportunity that might not be for everyone, as athletes make great sacrifices to continue their sporting passions after graduating high school. However, if a student has even the slightest bit of interest in playing a sport for CCNY, the benefits might just be worth sending an email or reaching out to another student athlete on social media. You never know unless you try.