METCO athletes overcome transportation difficulties

Leon Yang, Sports Writing Editor


Junior Ndanu Mutsiya hits a ball during a girls volleyball practice in the Schluntz Gymnasium. PETRA HUANG FOR THE SAGAMORE
Junior Ndanu Mutsiya hits a ball during a girls volleyball practice in the Schluntz Gymnasium. PETRA HUANG FOR THE SAGAMORE

Many students at the high school have a passion for an extracurricular activity, such as a sport. Yet, daily homework compounded with sports practices creates a tiresome routine that can be both time consuming and debilitating. For students who are part of the Brookline Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity program, or METCO, transportation difficulties present an even greater challenge to playing a sport.

Despite these challenges, METCO athletes are able to maintain a high level of playing and a strong connection with the high school.

Senior Jeffrey Santos, who is a member of the varsity track and field team, lives in Roxbury. According to him, It can take half an hour to an hour to get home from practice. This commute affects his evening schedule and routine.

“When I get home, it’ll be about 8 o’clock, and then I’ll have to eat dinner and then start homework,” Santos said. “So I don’t sleep a lot, but I don’t really mind.”

According to Santos, though transportation to practices and games can be an issue, being on a team has numerous merits.

“You make friends on the team. It’s easier being in school when you’re on the team,” Santos said. “You’re having fun but staying active.”

Santos also said that school spirit is an important aspect of being a student at the high school. He said he has a drive to win that enables him to continue to practice.

“Without practice, you just can’t win, and it’s all about winning,” Santos said. “There’s no other reason why you’re doing the sport if you’re not trying to win.”

Junior Ndanu Mutisya plays varsity volleyball and tennis. She says that it is well worth being on teams at the high school, which allow her to represent the high school at games and tournaments.

Though Mutisya said she still feels very much a member of her teams, she does have to communicate with her coaches about transportation issues.

“Sometimes you have to tell your coach, ‘I’m a METCO student,’” Mutisya said. “There’s going to be times where you’re going to be like ‘traffic today was not on my side, and I’m going to need you to help me out a little bit, because I don’t live in Brookline.’”

Mutisya said that in Dorchester, where she lives, there are limited opportunities for the sports that she plays. According to her, if there are teams in her neighborhood, they are not as competitive as those at the high school.

Sophomore Joseph Clark plays football on the junior varsity team. He takes multiple buses on his way to school. Sometimes, after practice he will complete homework at the high school and return home around nine or ten o’clock.

According to Clark, as a METCO student, he does not feel that he is perceived differently by his team, but rather that he is united with his teammates by a common cause. Clark said that playing a sport in general allows him to connect with the high school’s spirit.

“If you’re playing for your school, you’re representing Brookline, and so it’s kind of a big connection,” Clark said. “[It] is definitely strong for me.”

METCO Director Keith Lezama said that sports help students foster relationships that they would not ordinarily form in other settings.

According to Lezama, the METCO program gives its students various resources to help them succeed in a sport. However, it is up to students to initially choose whether they want to compete.

“I allow them to decide on their own, and I just go and support as much as I can,” Lezama said.

And playing a sport at the high school is often rewarding.

“It’s great to be part of something,” Clark said. “It’s great to contribute and give something your all.”