Nueva’s Sports Identity

Dec 7, 2018 | Basketball, Sports, Volleyball

It’s well known that sports do not take much of the spotlight when talking about Nueva. People’s minds often go towards our great I-Lab and robotics programs, our competitive debate teams, our incredible campuses, and diverse and passionate teachers. Those unfamiliar with Nueva don’t really remember our sports programs. Even inside our school, Nueva sports are often joked about even though many students participate in them. To some people, the absence of a large sports presence at Nueva may be a good thing because it cannot be a distraction. While Nueva is far from a sports school, we still act as though our teams are non-competitive even when they are achieving success.  

“Some people have told me that Nueva sports aren’t as competitive as other high schools,” Anna Culwell (10) says. 

Jonah Ramirez (10) agrees, saying, “Kids said [Nueva Athletics] was not as good.”

So why is Nueva Athletics a punching bag in our school? It mainly comes from the “stereotypes around smart people being less athletic,” Culwell says.

Athletics representative Jeremy Dumalig (11) says, “People assume that the teams are bad where in reality a lot of our teams are performing at a high level.”  Even with the recent successes, sports here will most likely not gain any more praise because it will be overshadowed by other accomplishments around the school. However that does not mean students aren’t noticing. After the girl’s volleyball team won a share of the PSAL championship, a congratulatory poster was put up on the second floor stairway to celebrate the achievement.

We have a smaller community so we have less students to choose from so we can’t make the teams as competitive.

Anna Culwell (10)

“I think it’s really impressive and it goes to show that Nueva is actually good at sports,” Culwell says about cross country and volleyball winning their respective leagues. Additionally, at a recent all-hands meeting, three banners were unveiled in the gym celebrating boy’s and girl’s cross country PSAL Championships and girl’s volleyball PSAL Championship.

Although success is a significant piece of a strong sports culture, it is not the only aspect. Attendance and spirit are also relevant and important when talking about the sports culture here.

All of the successes Nueva has had will not make a difference if people aren’t showing up to see them compete. This is not to say that students don’t show support at all, but that there isn’t an overwhelmingly large number of supporters at games.

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I feel like our [Sports] culture itself isn’t necessarily changing but I know our programs are growing. We are getting more competitive.

Jeremy Dumalig (11)

Attendance is generally low, though there was strong turnout at the volleyball homecoming game this year.

“We could definitely get more people to the games,” Ramirez says.

“Some games are harder to go to than others, and there’s not opportunities to go to them,” Culwell concurs. This is a common problem as only volleyball and basketball teams play at the upper school campus and most students are unable to drive to games at other locations.

An important step in creating a community that values athletics is having high participation in sports. If more people are involved in sports they are more likely to feel more connected to the athletics programs.  

“I know a lot of students at the school typically may just ignore sports whatsoever, so I know getting students to attend every home game is pretty ambitious but it would be cool to see that in a few years,” Dumalig says. Currently, there is a certain lack of talk and spirit around Nueva sports teams as one would hear in another school. The difference being that as mentioned in the beginning, Nueva has a variety of different opportunities, events, and general interests in the student population that may not be found at another school.

Therefore other schools may take more pride in their sports because that is the primary way in which they are represented unlike our school. While we can mostly agree that it’s good to have a diversity of interests at Nueva, the general consensus is that the sports reputation of Nueva can improve and is improving.