The Island Trees athletic program is ready to take on the 2019-20 season. After a successful 2018-19 campaign, the Bulldogs look to continue their momentum.
The Tribune spoke with Athletic Director Sean Burns, who gives some insight as to what the district looks for in athletes, as well as why overall participation is up.
Q: Have you upgraded any facilities?
A: Over the past few years, we have added signage around our facilities that celebrate past and present accomplishments of Island Trees sports teams. We now have County and Conference championship signs that adorn the high school and overlook our fields that honor championship teams since the inception of the Island Trees School District. Additionally, we have added new bleachers with school-colored windscreens that better reflect our “Bulldog Spirit.” Last year, our high school and middle school locker rooms and team rooms were completely renovated with new showers, bathrooms and lockers that consistently receive high praise not only from our own students and staff, but from visiting teams and coaches as well.
Q: Have you seen an increase or decrease in participation for any sports?
A: In the past three years, we have had at least three new sports-specific booster clubs emerge that reflects the strong school spirit in our community. Although there are certain school districts on Long Island that are seeing a decrease in sports participation, we have actually experienced growing interest in several areas of our athletics program that have allowed us to add junior varsity teams, as well as cross country and winter track for our middle school student-athletes. These new offerings will only serve to strengthen our varsity programs in the long run.
Q: Who do you want to see become a breakout star this season?
A: I don’t necessarily look for any particular student-athlete to become a breakout star. My greater desire is to see each of our student-athletes have their own version of success on the field or court of play each season. Ultimately, sports should be seen as a vehicle through which our young people experience success and disappointment, learn how to deal with adversity, equate hard work with rewards and finally, appreciate the importance of sportsmanship and teamwork to accomplish common goals.
Q: What sense of gratification do you have when you see one of your players recruited to play at the NCAA level?
A: One of the goals of the Island Trees Athletic Department is to assist any student-athlete who has aspirations to play their sport of choice in college. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing our students grow up in our schools and on our playing fields. It never ceases to amaze me how fast time goes. By the time students are old enough to commit to a college and play a collegiate sport, there’s an overwhelming sense of satisfaction to see all of those years of hard work on the part of the families, teachers, administrators, coaches and most importantly, the student, come to fruition. We honor these students and their families with a ceremonial signing day each year and share the good news with our community to show the next generation of Bulldogs what can be accomplished if you set your mind on a goal and work hard towards it.