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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bronx Science Ballers Defy Stereotyping

 Bronx Science lost its January match-up with against DeWitt Clinton, but is hoping to ride a three-game winning streak into the postseason. (Photo by Adi Talwar)

The gymnasium at the Bronx High School of Science (or "Bronx Science") is an interesting experience for one attuned to the sights of a traditional American sports hall. For one thing, a traditional American sports hall probably lacks the huge placard that greets those entering Bronx Science’s gymnasium, featuring the faces of seven stoic looking men arranged underneath the text “Alumni Winners of the Nobel Prize.”

Indeed, this school is a place of learned adolescents. Athletics, it would seem to the untrained eye, remains a difficult equation for the students at Bronx Science.

The stereotype is that students at Bronx Science are not jocks. They tell jokes about parabolas and physics equations. They're probably used to hearing the term "nerd."

But to believe that brains would inhibit the Bronx Science basketball team’s ability to play is a gross underestimation. These boys may spend their days with their heads buried in textbooks, but on the court they play ball like mad dogs.

Coach Sammel Brown remarked on the attention the team’s academic reputation attracts: jeers and trash talking from fans of other teams.

“I’ve heard it all,” said Brown, “I provoke it...we hear the jeers, I tell [the team], ‘this is what their saying, so lets make them feel destroyed.’” Brown invites the negativity. “We feed off it,” he says.

A public school that requires an entrance exam from prospective students, Bronx Science is given an understandable disadvantage when it comes to athletics. Without a large pool of students flowing into the school, athletic talent is harder to come by.

“It is a disadvantage,” Brown says, “but I think if you prepare the kids in the same way they pick it up faster.”

This season the team has picked it up especially fast. Their current record, 11-6, boasts more wins than the team’s last two seasons combined.

Much of this improvement comes with Coach Sammel Brown, who spent three years coaching at the Eagle Academy For Young Men before coming to Bronx Science in 2009. Brown brought with him a philosophy that the team, no matter how disadvantaged, could play with anybody.

Now, with only a few games left in the team’s regular season, they look toward the post season, and the ultimate goal of performing in the Federation State Championships in Glens Falls. The season has been long, and the team has given up several pivotal victories, including a tough loss after their second meeting with local rival DeWitt Clinton in January.

Coach Brown spoke about how that loss forced the team to focus on their priorities. “We sat there for an hour after the game talking about the season,” said Brown, “and there we decided we will be upstate at Glens Falls competing for the title.”

Whether or not they make it that far, however, depends on the team’s ability to continue matching wits with faster, stronger, or taller opponents.

Bronx Science has won their three last games, knocking down Evander Childs, Christopher Columbus, and Walton in that order. They face Grace Dodge tomorrow, Feb. 3, and the tough Alfred E. Smith Tech., currently 14-3, on Friday.


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