Saturday, May 28, 2011

Da Vinci tennis star

The Buffalo Public Schools have been taking a beating in the press lately. All we hear about is poor test scores and low graduation rates. I think it's important to remember those students who are accomplishing great things in athletics, despite not having all the advantages of their suburban counterparts.

I just got out of a practice with our u16 girls soccer team. While most of the girls on the team attend Mt. Mercy Academy, three of them, Tricia Buchwald (Hutch Tech) and Hannah Pomeroy (Da Vinci), and Alyssa Hewitt (Da Vinci)play BPS soccer in the Fall. All three are very good players. They could easily start for most suburban high schools.

This story in the Buffalo News on Tuesday caught my attention. It profiled Van Dinh, a male tennis player from Da Vinci High School. A junior, Dinh advanced to the Sectionals before losing a close match to Clarence High School's Sean Siracusa, (5-7, 6-2, and 7-5)...

"He's a great ambassador not just for the school, but for the district," Da Vinci coach Andrew McDermott said. "We're dealing with trying to get rackets in the hands of as many kids as possible. It's a very daunting task."

The contrast between city schools and their suburban counterparts can be striking.

At Lancaster on Tuesday, there were eight sectional matches taking place at the same time, all on pristine blue and red courts. But when the Dragons get practice time, they split the two courts at Buffalo's Front Park with International Prep at Grover Cleveland.

Hopefully, next year, he'll go even further. In most sports, BPS athletes don't have the same club experience as their opponents. For example, most of Tricia, Hannah, and Alyssa's teammates at school only play soccer two months a year (in the Fall). These three play year round against strong (mostly suburban) competition.

When given the opportunity, BPS students can compete against anyone. For years, we heard the BPS schools would get creamed if they played the suburban schools in football. This was not the case. Last year, their first year in such play, they held their own and won several games against established teams. The challenge for other sports is to get the students playing against top competition year round. We also need to get more parents informed as to what's available out there. BPS athletic director Aubrey Lloyd knows it has to start at a young age. I spoke to him last week and he has several programs going on at the grammar schools. In my opinion, facilities and equipment are overrated. Getting the students out on the fields, courts, etc. competing-underrated. I think the Buffalo schools are moving in the right direction in athletics. Congratulations to Van Dinh on a terrific season.


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