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Members of the GHS Sports Buddies club
Above, members of the GHS Sports Buddies Club. Want to see more photos? Visit the district's photo gallery page

Building new skills both on and off of the court...
Sports Buddies club teaches students athletics, teamwork, and friendship

June 14, 2012—Twice a month, Guilderland High School junior Neel Nayak joins his classmates for an afternoon of exercise, training, and team building as part of the school’s unique Sports Buddies program. Now in its second year, Sports Buddies connects students in the Community Based Skills (CBS) program with their peers using the universal languages of basketball, soccer, and kickball—among others.

The driving force behind the club, Nayak saw his interest in athletics as a way to help bring together members of the school community who may not otherwise get to know one another due to their different course schedules.

“I’ve always been passionate about sports,” said Nayak, club president and a three-sport school athlete. “But not everyone plays on a school sports team, and so this sounded like a great way to give everyone an opportunity to participate,” he said. “I was curious to see how the idea would work.”

Nayak approached school leaders with his idea, recruited several friends to help plan and lead activities, and several weeks later, Sports Buddies was born. The club generally meets twice a month after school in the East Gym, and attracts anywhere from eight to 30 students each meeting.

“Sports Buddies is a great program because it is completely self-run by students,” said faculty club co-advisory Brian Quigg. “Not only was the club a student-driven idea, but they come up with their own activities, design training and technique lessons, coach their peers, and consistently recruit new participants all on their own. They do a wonderful job.”

Chris Padula, a junior in the CBS program, has participated with Sports Buddies since the club’s inception. “I really like getting to spend time with my friends, learning new activities and making new friends,” he said. “It’s also a great way to stay active.”

Padula, who is active in community sports leagues, also said that the club helps him to get his mind off of school work for a little while and energizes him to refocus.

“Being a part of something like this really helps us all grow as individuals,” said Nayak. “Not only is it a lot of fun to socialize and get to know new people but we also get a chance to act as ‘teachers’ while learning and working with others.”

Best of all, the dividends of Sports Buddies continue to pay off long after the students leave the gymnasium. “More and more, we see students who may not have interacted with each other on a daily basis saying ‘hello’ to each other in the hallway or eating lunch together,” said Quigg. “This club truly is building a stronger school community."

Nayak agrees. “There was a disconnect in school between the two groups of students, and this was a way to bridge the gap,” he said. “Instead of groups, we are all now just students. We are friends.”

Sports Buddies will begin meeting again in Fall 2012. If you would like to become involved in the program, please see club co-advisors Brian Quigg, Karen Brockley, Matthew Wright. Information will also be posted throughout the building beginning in September.