Walking towards the Field House today, one sees banners and trophies proudly decorating the walls. Some of the awards, won by the boys’ teams, have been around since the school first started; however, many other awards, those won by the girls’ teams, are relatively new.
Out of the 19 sports presently offered to girls at South, only three were originally played and accepted as varsity sports.
“It started out with basketball, tennis, and field hockey. These were the only sports available to girls in the 1960s,” former girls’ coach Judy Kennedy said.
Kennedy led various girls’ teams for almost 40 years at South before she retired in 2005. Beyond the three sports mentioned above, many other athletic opportunities were not presented to girls.
Sports like girls’ gymnastics and volleyball that weren’t considered varsity sports, but more like clubs or after school activities.
It wasn’t until June 23, 1972 that gender equality was brought to the public school system. On that day, the United States Congress passed Title IX.
This amendment to the US education policy stated that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
After this amendment, drastic changes occurred in the school’s athletic programs. The walls that divided genders had been virtually torn down. If a girl had wanted to play on a boys’ team and there was no athletic equivalent for her, she could try out. The opportunities were available, but according to Kennedy, no one capitalized on the new legislation.
“After Title IX the whole landscape changed. Girls had more opportunities than ever before, but people were still skeptical. It wasn’t until the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Rigs tennis match that people believed in gender equality on the sports field,” Kennedy said.
The Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Rigs match was a world-famous
match in 1973. Bobby Rigs, a World Champion mens’ tennis player, challenged King, the women’s leader, to a match. He boasted proudly that “women could never be the players men were, they were simply too weak and they were just women.” King accepted the challenge and trounced Rigs.
“Her victory proved to the [world] that women are legitimate athletes,” Kennedy said. “After Title IX and the King vs. Rigs match people started to look at women’s sports differently. And with the help of George Winkler we began to expand.”
Winkler, the Athletic Director at the time, began programs of integration in the school. The two genders had separate gym facilities. The current Fitness Center was the girls’ gym and Gym B was the boys’ gym.
Winkler also fought for funding for the girls’ sports and brought new athletic programs for girls to South.
By the end of 1973, instead of having three sports in total, the girls had a couple sports every season. Soccer and volleyball ran in the fall, gymnastics and basketball in the winter, and tennis and softball in the spring, for instance.
“I was really lucky to have someone like Winkler. Many of my colleagues in the coaching field did not get the support I did. [South] was given liberties that were uncanny back then, and that really helped keep us ahead of the curve,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy is regarded as one of the pioneers for South’s girls’ athletics program. Coaching teams like Field Hockey, Basketball, Volleyball, and Gymnastics, she helped lead the charge for equality.
Equality isn’t clearly defined between two genders in a category likes sports. One gender, boys, is considered dominant because of supposed physical advantages. Although there are exceptions, girls competing in predominantly boys’ sports are not something seen everyday.
But strides like Title IX give girls more opportunities to shine.
“In spheres like academics, the two genders are equal. And even though they are equally good in their own right, you have to compare them individually in sports,” Girls’ Tennis Coach Robert Jampol said.
And compared to the standards and codes of 50 years ago, South has come a long way.
“I’ve noticed much more acceptance of girls. There isn’t a huge difference between the level of competitiveness between the two genders anymore and more girls are coming out to play,” said Kennedy.
With the past changed and the present at peace with itself, not much has to be changed.
“[I think the next step] would be to get girls more familiar with the sports. If there are more girls willing to do certain sports like powderpuff, then teams can start up. It’s a lot of fun being a part of something, and many girls miss opportunities to experience that fun,” Junior Chloe Jackson-Unger said.
“Stick to the ground! Passing has ruined the game,” former South Football and Wrestling Coach Art Kojoyian, a devoted supporter of running the football, shouted to the crowd. An uproarious laughter followed his bold statement.
Kongie, as he was called by his former wrestlers and football players, had once again evoked the same pleasure he had during his 18-year tenure at the school.
His acceptance speech was completely in character, reminding those who played for him why he was one of the greatest coaches in South history.
Kojoyian was one of four former South coaches who was honored on November 27 as part of the first inaugural class of the new Hall of Fame. The class also included six former South athletes.
“All of the people we picked were more than deserving,” Athletic Director Scott Perrin said.
According to head of the Booster Club Jon Frieze, 50 years of South’s athletic programs have produced a large group of Hall-worthy alumni.
“There have been a lot of deserving people,” he said.
Perrin and the other members of the Hall of Fame Committee will primarily focus on three-sport athletes, with multiple All-American honors.
“What some athletes today don’t realize is that playing multiple sports makes them a better athlete,” Perrin said.
Athletes become induction-eligible five years after graduating.
Perrin did say that student-inductees do not have to be captains to join the Hall of Fame.
The athletic department joined the Booster Club to organize the Hall of Fame, which they held at the Newton Marriot.
The Village Bank contributed to the efforts with a sizeable donation to the Booster Club.
Despite being the eve following Thanksgiving, the crowd almost doubled from the estimated 80 people to 160 attendees.
“It was so successful,” Frieze said of the turnout. “I wouldn’t be surprised if [the Hall of Fame] was every year now.”
Perrin and the Committee expect to convene over the winter to decide plans for the Hall of Fame in future years.
The inductees of the Class of 2009 were dominated by gridiron stars. Four of the six athletes, and half of the coaches were a part of high school’s most revered sport, football.
Leading this group was Seth Hauben, a graduate in 2001. “Seth was one of the best athletes to ever come out of here,” Perrin said.
Playing basketball and lacrosse in addition to football, Hauben received nine varsity letters and seven Dual County League (DCL) All-Star nominations.
The accolades extended to a national level. Hauben was a basketball phenomenon, a McDonald’s All-American, a member of The Boston Globe’s Super Team, and a member of The Boston Herald’s Dream Team during his senior year.
As South has gone on and evolved over the past 50 years, the Wellness program has been an important part of the South community and curriculum.
In the early history of the school, however, the program only focused on one aspect of wellness: physical fitness. This was used to help train students for the military to help the war effort.This course continued for 30 years until former Athletic Director Bob Chrusz reformed the physical education program by adding a more complete wellness curriculum. Chrusz added ideas of trust, community building, and social skills to the program.
In 1998, the Wellness program expanded even more to include a wider variety of subjects including community building, verbal skills, life choices, and decision-making. The idea of total wellness, both a physical and an emotional state, was also introduced to the staff and students.
In addition to an expansion to the wellness classes, sexual education was integrated into the wellness program and focused on smart decision making, rather than abstinence. “We wanted to give them all the information they needed so they could make the smart decisions on their own,” Wellness teacher Bill Fagen said.
This was a very progressive step as South had one of the few Wellness programs in the state, if not the country, to include a model of complete wellness. “We used to go to wellness conventions 10, 12, 14 years ago and teach other schools about what we were doing; before that, it was completely unheard of,” Elwell said.
Eight years ago, under Mike Walsh, the Wellness program was changed to add variety to upperclassmen’s classes after finishing their core wellness classes. This variety included the global games, yoga, stress management, and the recently added project adventure. The program has also adopted the idea of total inclusion. “Back in the day, the only goal was to teach fitness, but that was a problem for those who had limited physical ability,” Wellness teacher Amy Aranski said. “We’ve adopted a new approach in the past 15 years to include everyone and promote community building.”
Despite the effectiveness of the wellness curriculum, the Wellness Department hit a major roadblock in 2009 when the school, faced with large budget cuts, decreased the number of wellness teachers in half, from eight teachers to four.
The program, however, is looking towards the future, especially since it received the Carol A. White Physical Education Program grant and the newly installed Project Adventure course.
“The grant saved us,” Fagen said. “It has allowed the wellness program to experience a revival in midst of budgets cuts.”
With the high elements course and the possible inclusion of an anti-bullying curriculum, the Wellness program looks to expand and add more staff members to cope with the workload. “We think the wellness program is experiencing a revival,” Aranski said. “People are starting to see how important the wellness program is.”
By Dan Mirsky, Volume 50
February 15, 2011
Athletics are most often seen, in the eyes of teachers, administrators, and even parents, as an “extra-curricular”: an activity a student might choose to indulge in when the demands of the “curriculum” have been satisfied, when exams and MCAS scores have been tallied, and “core requirements” have been met.
As I navigate my second decade as an educator and coach, I look back at the lessons I learned through numerous on-field challenges—and in the countless hours of preparation to take the field—and I wonder: what was the real curriculum for me in high school, the venue where I was really set up to learn and ultimately to achieve my goals? Was it in the classroom or on the athletic field?
During my years as a student at Newton South, sports were a lifeline, an organizing principle that helped to focus my scattered teenage mind, a means for showing my friends and loved ones that I was capable, a gage of my own qualities as a contributor to a group goal, and most importantly, a vehicle for me to discover the truest self that lay within, the self that only emerged in moments of pure anxiety and challenge.
My tenure on the staff of Denebola served much of the same purpose, pushing me to effectively handle stress and lead my peers in moments of critical challenge. But it was the athletic field where my purest training for life took place.
I had always loved to play; I was somewhat of a gym-class hero in my early years. In middle school, I put on a lot of weight, and as a result my budding athletic career became increasingly proscribed—I was seen as no more than a pudgy offensive lineman with a below-average penchant for running full-tilt into other heavily padded kids.
After two summers of dedicated weight loss at a specialized summer sports camp, and thanks to a healthy early-teen growth spurt, I entered Newton South a somewhat insecure, gangly and confused “football player” without much of a sense of himself on or off the field. And in the midst of that freshman year, I found lacrosse. Well, to be fair, lacrosse found me when my Freshman Football coach E.A. Morgan passed me in the hall one day and said, “Mirsky, you play a spring sport?”
“Good, take this lacrosse stick and learn how to use it—you’ve got two months before the season starts.”
I was not really a sophisticated exchange, but I took this simple charge from an adult whose respect I desperately wanted to earn, and I set out to become the best lacrosse player in my grade!
The only problem was that I wasn’t very good at it, and I certainly wasn’t considered one of the “elite” athletes in my grade; I was more of a coach’s afterthought, really.
I also felt as a ninth grader at South that I wasn’t ever going to be a star in the classroom. At age 14, I couldn’t really explain why this was, but it seemed like I struggled more with school work than a lot of my classmates did, not to mention the fact that my brilliant older sister had set an academic bar so impossibly high that I felt I had no hope of fulfilling my parents’ and teachers’ expectations.
But nobody had any expectations of me as an athlete, and in sports I saw my shot at excellence, my chance to show the world, and myself, that I could truly succeed on my own merits. All I needed to do was work my tail off. Three-plus years and thousands of practice hours later (really, ask my parents or teachers—they’ll vouch), I was captaining a Varsity Lacrosse team and looking ahead to playing lacrosse at the collegiate level.
I still had much to learn about myself as a college student and an athlete, valuable lessons I would learn first at UMass and later at Wesleyan University.
But it was the formative years of sports at Newton South that provided me with my first insights into my own potential, my own ability to rise up and face challenge, and the secret I held close to my heart: the best way to succeed in the face of adversity was to preview what might come, and to subject myself to the worst I could think of in hopes that it would render the real challenges ahead less formidable.
How does a team improve on a “best ever” season?
Fulfilling the goal will be quite the task; the less room for improvement, the more difficult to improve. The ‘83 Lions checked in with a noteworthy record of 8-1-1 including a Thanksgiving Day victory over Lincoln-Sudbury. During the season, South routinely dominated its foes outscoring them 205-117. Most significantly, the squad captured its first Dual County League championship.
There is no doubt that the South gridmen will rely heavily upon the their running game. The backfield lost the talent of Chris Kiah to graduation, but strong and quick Kevin Rollins will make his presence known once again this year. Rollins, among the leaders in scoring for Division III in ‘83, was the Lions’ top ground gainer with 761 yards.
Complementing Rollins in the backfield will be Darvell Huffman. Both Huffman’s mobility and his versatility proved to be tremendous assets to the squad last year. Besides scoring eight touchdowns and averaging more than five yards per carry, Huffman led the team in number of receptions with 28. The speedy senior looks to continue his role as short yardage receiving specialist this year.
Rounding out the explosive backfield will be quarterback Steven Altman. Altman will bark signals as the starter for his second consecutive year. The year of experience will be a definite plus as Altman will try to raise his already commendable completion percentage of 57 percent.
The Lions’ defense is sure to raise eyebrows while lowering its opponents’ hopes in the coming season. The South “D” can be best summed up with one word . . . solid. Coach Kojoyian will reveal one of the biggest front lines in Division III football. The line will include bruisers Brian Burlingame, Gary Collins, and Tommy Rogers. The defensive backs also promise to give opposing quarterbacks trouble. Derryck Harell, who picked off seven passes last year, will be accompanied by Huffman and rangy Leroy Rollins as the deep backs.
Improving on last year’s Cinderella season will be a difficult assignment. Hoever, with the talent and experience that the ‘84 edition of South’s football team possesses, anything seems within its grasp.
By Denebola Staff, Volume 8
September 25, 1968
Love. Love is an emotion rarely transmitted among casual high school friends; certainly it is less common between a student and his or her teachers. Danny Mendelson meant many things to his numerous friends and teachers. The dominant, emotional response to the name Danny Mendelson is love. Let those who knew him and loved him speak for themselves:
Social Studies teacher Warren Priest eulogized, “What was yesterday’s promise is today’s memory.
“Danny lived by a principle that remained strong with him. He hated sham, pretense. He saw much about him in his young life. He could not walk in the ways of other people. He had to find his own way. His way was different.”
Praised English teacher Slater, “You enjoyed his special summertime that we so seldom dare embrace in our lonely, cautious little worlds.
“To teach him was to accept his challenge, to reciprocate with enthusiasm and conviction—to give the best you had to give.”
Coach Winkler said, “Danny’s radiant personality, his wit, enthusiasm and unselfishness as a member of all athletic teams, were qualities admired by all his teammates and coaches. We were most fortunate to have a young man of Danny’s calibre in our midst.”
Principal William Geer stated, “There are many kinds of success that a 17-year-old boy can achieve.” Mr. Geer added, “And Danny Mendelson attained most of them. He was a gifted athlete, he was noble and warm with his peers, and he was bold and honest in his judgments. Yet these were not his real successes nor his remarkable gift.
“Danny waged a brave, gentle and innocent struggle with all the negative forces of status and cool.
“He was no clever tactician of success who calculated the amount of cool to be had in any act. He charted no grim and self-centered course for success and he seemed oblivious of the grim struggle for cool and status that surrounded him. He was never oblivious of the feelings and qualities of those with whom he came in contact, and so he succeeded in freeing all from the harsh and barren cool.
“Yet, in his youth Danny Mendelson gave this gift to us and asked for no return.”
A new sport for NSHS has recently gotten under way. Fencing is now offered to both boys and girls, under the instruction of Miss Barbara Hall.
In “foil” the legs are held together with feet at right angles in the “attention” position. Next comes “engrade” when the feet maintain their 90 stance, the legs spread apart while a sideway, bending stauch is held as the right arm proceeds to contract in true weight-lifting fashion. In this case, the arm is used for balance. The “engarde” position is maintained throughout the entire match except for the lunge, which scores points. It occurs when the tip of the sabre bends against and opponent’s body.
Naomi Corman and Sandy Gay, co-captains, help the Tuesay practice sesson while girl’s gym instructor, Miss Barbara Hall, leads the group during a 2.5 hour period.
Miss Hall is well practiced in fencing having won the New England Women’s Fencing Championship in 1960. The former champ stressed the sport in likeness with boxing, where each participant endeavors to out-think his opponent. It is a psychological, intellectual sport requiring not brawn, but brains; thus, it is specifically suited for a co-educational basis.
Matches with other secondary schools are difficult to schedule because very few public high schools offer fencing in the eastern part of the nation. Last year’s sole match was won by the Cambridge School of Weston.
A moderate turnout on October 9 showed a total of 15 girls and 12 boys.
Throughout the years, South students have seen the facilities change. From the dangerous football fields of the 60s, to the state-of–the-art complexes built in 2009, there has been the addition of the new fields, the Field House, and the tennis courts. South was built in 1960 with the athletic fields already there. Then, the old layout of the athletic complex was one giant complex that fit roughly two fields in addition to a football field with bleachers.
In 1962, the land beside the school, where the baseball, softball, and soccer fields are, was swampland. A contractor was hired to fill the swamp and create usable fields. To fill it in, the contractor used swamp fill, a cheap alternative composed of dirt and glass shards, rather than clean fill, which was safe to use but was more expensive. “[The fill] really became a problem,” Jon Frieze, Head of South’s Booster Club, said. “The glass resurfaced and began cutting athletes.”
Originally, the area where the football stadium currently is was also swampland. In 1977, former Athletic Director George Winkler worked to fill in the swampland and create more fields for the school. These fields, fortunately, were filled correctly.
Not only were South athletics affected, but other organizations, such as Little League, Newton Youth Soccer, and Newton Girls’ Soccer, were also forced to cancel games.
According to Frieze, the complex was not ideal for athletics because of its uneven and mushy surface.
While the modifications to the fields appear the most prominent adaptations to South’s outdoor athletic facilities, the indoor additions shaped the current layout of the fields.
Most winter sports had to cram in two small gymnasiums, Gym B being the larger of the two, before the major renovation in 2003. Along with Gym B, there was an upstairs gymnasium where the current Dance Studio and Fitness Center are situated.
The two gyms provided minimal seating for South’s loyal spectators compared to the seating in the current arrangement.
The most beloved and greatest glory for the Athletic Department, the Field House, was built in 2003, and since its construction, it has become the center of South athletics, assemblies, and graduations.With the current complex, most programs now have the space and resources needed to compete with the high-caliber competition in the Dual County League (DCL).
Athletes love the new fields. Alex Foner, a two-sport Varsity captain, was thrilled with the new complex.
“I found with the old fields that the outcomes of the soccer games were affected by the field,” Foner said. “With the turf, the only factor affecting the games is the talent of the players.”
With the old fields, teams would usually have to go off-campus to play.
The new baseball and softball fields allow both Varsity programs to relocate to the home turf, attracting noticeably larger crowds. By having a field to call their own, the teams had more flexibility with practice time than they had when they were sharing recreational fields around Newton.
We have come a long way from the dangerous swamp-filled fields of our past to our beloved pristine facilities of today.
Two state-of-the-art turf fields, baseball and softball fields, and a 1,000-seat football and track and field facility are the pride and joy of today’s South athletics. This addition has been the final step, along with the brand new ropes course, in creating a beautiful and useful complex for South sports programs.
Prior to the 2010 – 2011 academic year, an adventure course was installed near the practice football field outside the Field House. The 19-piece course was funded by a Carol A. White Physical Education Program grant. The course is used for a new class, Project Adventure, in which students work on team building and trust. The students eventually move onto the adventure course and use both the high and low elements.
Over the past 50 years, South has seen many changes in its facilities. In the near future, there are no renovations to the current athletic complex. And why should there be? The schools, namely the Athletic Department, created a slew of facilities designed to not only keep programs at the top of the Dual County League, but to also provide the resources to propel them to perennial success.