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The Revival of The Old Gym and HSAS Basketball

Max Hauser, Grade 11, Staff Writer

 

COVID had numerous detrimental effects on varying aspects of school that were resolved. Students found their way back into classrooms, whether it was digitally or muffled by a face mask. However, a resolution was not found in one aspect of HSAS student life: Old Gym basketball.


The recovery of athletics at HSAS was prolonged and dragged out due to the loss of access to the Old Gym and the delay of its return. Mr. Schulman, our school’s Athletic Director, described the process leading up to the loss of the Old Gym building.


He recalls that it all began when the pandemic hit. “The union of professors at CUNY had every building on all CUNY campuses inspected.” He recalls that the reason for the disuse of the Old Gym was that it was “considered to have poor ventilation under CUNY standards” and “changes had to be made to get it up and running.”


Boys and Girls basketball, being the only HSAS sports teams that rely solely on the Old Gym for practice and home games, suffered the most. Michael Hamlett Sr, coach of the boys basketball team, described the 2021-22 season as “the worst.”


Without a consistent place to practice, the team wasn’t able to “run any sets, clean up plays, or work on any conditioning.” With the season consisting of around 5 practices in total, the basketball team obviously struggled, something visible with the boys team’s 3-9 record that year. The practices that did take place in the 2021-22 season either took place in the second smaller gym of Bronx Science on Saturdays or in a classroom after school to strategize for the next ill-prepared game.


Things did get slightly better for the basketball teams in the 2022-23 season. Both the girls’ and boys’ teams were able to practice in the Apex, but at the same time and only on one half of the court.


Coach Hamlett Sr. said he gives the guys from last year “a lot of credit as they competed, and only missed the playoffs by one game” as it was made very difficult by the practice schedule of “half court practices for only an hour and twice a week.”


There was a significant improvement in terms of practice from the 2021 and 2022 seasons, yet both basketball teams had to face great adversity to just compete and sit among the middle of the standings.


This year, as COVID has settled down, the CUNY Union of professors has “relaxed on the ventilation guidelines” and the Old Gym has been officially opened, as described by Mr. Schulman. The HSAS basketball teams have finally been able to return to their pre-COVID status after more than 3 years.


Erica Curry (‘25), a player for the girls basketball team, expresses strong positivity in the return of the Old Gym, describing it as “truly a godsend” and very reflective in their games as the girls basketball team “already has a 4-1 record.”


The performance of the boys basketball team is also looking a whole lot more promising. Coach Hamlett Sr. encapsulates the effects of the increased practices to 4-6 times a week on a full court for 2 hours each as making “a huge difference in conditioning, cleaning up our plays, and everything.”


Current seniors, only two on the boy’s and one on the girl’s team, have seen the entire progression from total cancellation of the season in 2020 to the refurbished, up and running, improvement-dense season this year.


Sebastian Ramos(‘24), the captain of the boys basketball team and the only four year player to see this full progression, is on his last season run before graduating. “Not having the old gym really hindered the growth of our basketball teams both my sophomore and junior year,” he says.


He added that: “We weren’t able to really practice and work on things that we knew we weren’t doing well. While I’m excited to have it for my senior year, I’m more excited that it allows the younger guys on the team to improve a lot more than I was able to, and lead this team to be more competitive in the future,” he added.


With the return of the Old Gym, both HSAS basketball teams will continue to progress. Getting back to the pre- COVID schedule will take some time, but the fight to play may lead to HSAS basketball re-emerging stronger than ever.

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