To Our CIS 339 Tech Tigers:
I write this letter to you from a downtown D train. I just left the gym where I watched you come within three points of our first playoff victory. I’m still jittery from the final few seconds, watching the last three-pointer come down heart-breakingly close to the rim. When I got to the sidewalk outside that school, it seemed impossibly sunny for such a sad day. But as I made my way toward the subway, my sadness faded, and I had to smile.
I had to smile because of what I saw today. So many things for you to be proud of. Your heart. Your effort. Your teamwork. For four quarters, you passed the ball selflessly. You called out to help each other against presses and picks. You didn’t boast when your shots dropped or brood when they didn’t. And you worked. Even during halftime, when the other team rested, you ran drills on the court. By the end, as the opponents were gasping for air, you were still grasping for one more shot, one last shot. In a hostile gym in a foreign part of the Bronx, you gave your best, and that counts.
I had to smile because of your sportsmanship. When other players muttered things, or taunted, you stayed focused on basketball. When the ref blew a call, you kept your cool. When Mr. E pulled you out, or called your name, you knew it was about becoming a better player, a better team. You put your head down and you kept working. When your teammates made mistakes, you clapped it up, showing that what mattered was the future, not the past. And when the final scoreboard wasn’t tilted in your favor, you congratulated the other guys and walked off as men, with your heads high. You had your dignity, a true sign of a winner.
I had to smile because of what you’ve taught us all. That your reputation with teachers and school staff matter when you’re a student-athlete. That books come before ball. You’ve shown that kids from all races and backgrounds and learning styles can come together for a common purpose. You’ve put the team first, and you’ve gone to battle for each other. You lead by example, by teaching each other, by holding each other accountable, by having fun with each other. As a team you are stronger than the individuals, stronger than even you may realize.
I had to smile because of Mr. E, your outstanding coach, a born leader. Demanding the most of you. Expecting the best. Preparing relentlessly. Building pride. Mr. E and you, a group of committed student-athletes, establishing a respected sports program. I see diligent, mature and bright young men ready to take on high school and the world beyond Webster Avenue. There are many, many reasons for us all to smile.
Thank you for all that you have done, for how you have grown, and for the way you will continue to set a positive example by your actions. On and off the court, you have blazed the trail for future Tech Tigers.
Principal, CIS 339