The MS 8 physical education teacher, Mateusz Gotowicki, has led the growth of after-school sports programming at MS 8 through the citywide CHAMPS league for middle school students (the name was derived from the attributes the program seeks to support in its participants: Cooperative, Healthy, Active, Motivated and Positive Students). Alongside the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) for high school students, the CHAMPS program allows public school students in New York City the opportunity to play on sports teams at their schools. Clubs are meant to run at least twice a week and some clubs also participate in games and tournaments. Students do not pay to participate in the clubs, but attendance is necessary.
In his first year at MS 8 last year, Mr. Gotowicki (known as “Mr. G”) taught co-ed soccer in the fall and boys’ basketball in the spring. MS 8 teacher Theresa Soto has led MS 8’s first CHAMPS team, the girls’ step team, for the past two years. Mr. G is hoping to expand to include a girls’ basketball team this fall. The exact teams MS 8 can offer depends on student interest and enrollment, as well as CHAMPS program rules, so stay tuned for details!
As a first year program in the 2015-16 school year, the soccer league was “developmental” and didn’t participate in league play. The boys’ basketball team – in its second year and first year of league play – showed increasing skill and success across its season. As Mr. G tells it: “We played 5 games at the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies against schools District 13; we lost our first two games by nearly 20 points and won our third by almost 30 – in our last game, we almost beat the league’s undefeated team! The top two teams go to playoffs and we just missed it.”
The MS 8 Step Team also had its second year with great success. Eighth grade captains, Schuyler B., Skye M. and Jade M., led practices and created a routine that was performed at the MS 8 Summer Concert. The team, made up of over 15 girls from all three grades, had a great time teaching each other the steps, building camaraderie and having fun. “Our team was visited by the CHAMPS coordinator, Mylene Gomez,” the team’s coach, Mrs. Soto, noted. “She was very impressed by the girls’ teamwork and dedication, even attending a morning practice before school. It was a joy to work with the girls this year and to catch the rhythm of their steps!”
Mr. G emphasizes that students must be successful in their academic classes in order to play on the CHAMPS teams. “My vision is that you need to be passing all classes in order to eligible to play on the team,” he says. “If you made the team and dropped one or more of your grades then you are suspended from team play but can still practice.” He is also adamant that CHAMPS is a program that allows all kids to play, not just the strongest players: “I tell my kids that if you come to the game then you will get put in. This applies to all games except the playoffs.”