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For the Love of the Team

Aaron Earley-Ledesma
"When you have a place like Steward where you can look into the stands and see your teachers, classmates, friends, and family, that's the beauty of school sports. That's when you understand that you're playing for something bigger than yourself." - Coach Kara Bacile
There was a tremendous sense of pride in Steward's Varsity Gym during the fourth quarter of the TCIS girls basketball quarterfinal game. The Spartans were winning 44-13, and every player was jumping with excitement as they watched Sabina Mohanty '23 sink a three-pointer. They were celebrating her, not their impending win.

It is in these defining moments you begin to understand that, for the Steward Spartans, it's not about winning — it's for the love of the team.

"Every time I took a shot, our team stood up, ready to scream when the ball went in, or cheer me on even if it didn't," said Sabina. "It was definitely one of the riskier shots I took this season, so having it go in was amazing, but the reactions from my teammates were even better."

With 40 teams in 12 sports and 15 state championships in the school's history, Director of Athletics Bruce Secrest shares that Steward's caring community is central to its success.

"We aren't all about the wins and the losses,” Coach Secrest said. “That doesn't mean we're not competitive. We are. It starts with having really good people who care about the kids, invest in our community, and really put in the work to help improve our student-athletes."

Despite all the successes, Spartans appreciate that losses are part of the process that leads to success.

"I first realized that it wasn’t all about winning when, in my freshman year, we lost in the first round of states for soccer," said Wit Moore '22. "Although heartbreaking, my coaches and teammates were all incredibly proud of what we had accomplished. From then on I knew to put my teammates first, winning second."

"Those defeats make the bonds within the team stronger," said Andy Orgain '24, who plays lacrosse and volleyball. "That's when you find yourself cheering louder than ever, running faster than you thought you could, and gaining friendships that last."

It's not just Upper School athletes who learn these values. Kara Bacile, the assistant director of athletics and head coach of girls varsity basketball, shared, "We're lucky to be at a place where this lesson begins to unfold in our Middle School athletics program and really grows as the students progress into the high school sports arena."

On the sidelines, cheering students and families also make a difference. Senior class president Grady Walsh '22 and student section leader Owen Marcey '22 rallied students to as many games as possible this year. The dynamic duo spread the word on Instagram and encouraged students to participate in white-out, camouflage, and neon nights.

"I wanted Steward to have an electric environment at every game," Grady said. "Every person from the cheerleaders and the front line of the student section to the Middle Schoolers and parents deserves credit for bringing that energy to games."

Coach Bacile said, "When you have a place like Steward where you can look into the stands and see your teachers, classmates, friends, and family, that's the beauty of school sports. That's when you understand that you're playing for something bigger than yourself."

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This story was originally published in the 2022 edition of Steward's magazine, Year in Review. Read the complete digital edition here.

Watch the latest Steward Athletics hype video, produced by Steward Marketing and Communication practicum students Morgan Smartt '25, Charlie Ventura '23, and Chase Wingfield '23.

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