YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Yorktown has produced winning teams on the field in various sports throughout the years, but its student-athletes also get the job done in the classroom.
As evidence, the school recently earned the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's (NYSPHSAA) School of Excellence honors.
According to the NYSPHSAA's website, to earn the School of Excellence Award, 75 percent of a school’s varsity teams must qualify, and receive, the Scholar-Athlete team award. For the 2019-20 school year, the School of Excellence winners were based on fall 2019 and winter 2020 scholar-athlete submissions because the spring 2020 program was cancelled.
“Obviously, it is a great honor to win this award,” said Robert Barrett, athletic director of Yorktown Schools. “We have been lucky enough to win this award several times in a row, and several times throughout the awards' existence. Anytime you win awards outside of league, section, regional, and state titles, like this award, it means that you have a well-rounded program with your priorities in order. Academic and sportsmanship awards, which we were lucky enough to win this year as well, say that our coaches are teaching it right, our community has bought in, and our athletes have embraced the idea, of being good student-athletes and people.”
Yorktown had a total of 17 varsity teams qualify for the Scholar-Athlete Team award, with many individuals qualifying on other teams.
Those teams were boys cross country, boys soccer, fall cheerleading, field hockey, girls cross country, girls soccer, girls swimming, girls tennis, volleyball, boys basketball, boys skiing, boys swimming, boys track and field, wrestling, gymnastics, girls track and field, and girls basketball.
To receive scholar-athlete team recognition with a certificate, the team’s average grade-point average (GPA) for 75 percent of the roster must be greater than or equal to 90.
A good support system is a big reason why Yorktown's student-athletes have been able to balance their work in the classroom and in athletics.
“Our coaches, teachers, and guidance counselors are so supportive of academics and really prioritize our students' academics that it doesn’t put our students in position to choose,” Barrett said. “The students know what comes first, but they also know that we have a rich tradition of success athletically. I think with the support of the people listed above, along with their wonderful support systems at home, they learn very quickly, to prioritize what is important, and they learn that time management is a key to success.”
Another important person in Yorktown's support system is Jeannette Martimucci, Barrett's administrative assistant.
“She does a great job of tracking the Scholar-Athlete awards, preparing the paperwork, and working with our guidance staff to get all the necessary scores,” Barrett said. “She loves this award and really puts the time in to make sure that everything is prepared just right.”
Barrett said that there is a priority placed on academic success by the school district and the Yorktown High School administrative team.
“Additionally, we are lucky to have wonderful teachers who are invested in their individual students' success from K to 12,” Barrett said. “Add to that the support of the guidance staff, support staff, and school administrators throughout the district, and you almost can’t help but have success. There are safeguards and coursework put in place to help students learn about time management, decision making, and where they can go for help, if there is a need. It is truly a team effort.”
When asked what the key for the student-athletes in his program will be to keep up the good work, in both the classroom and in the athletic arena, Barrett said the answer is simple.
“You can’t have one without the other,” Barrett said. “That is the philosophy of the high school and our athletic program. Many athletes aspire to play at the next level, and they learn quickly that academics and athletics go hand and hand. Overall, though, our athletes are inherently motivated students. I find that our parents are invested in their child’s learning, and support our students and schools tremendously.”