Sports Bonanza unites staff and students every Thursday



Sports Bonanza is a Zoom club started by social workers Paul Epstein and John Ortiz. The club allows for students and staff to talk about sports and de-stress.

What active NFL player has the 6th most rushing yards in college football history? If you knew that the answer to that question was Jonathan Taylor, or maybe more so if you didn’t, you should go to a Sports Bonanza meeting.

Sports Bonanza is a Zoom meeting held every Thursday at 6 p.m. where students and faculty can discuss sports and form bonds with each other.

Social workers Paul Epstein and John Ortiz co-founded the program to help kids relieve stress from schoolwork and other contributors during these unprecedented times.

“This is the most unique and challenging school year that any of us have had to face. I think kids needed an opportunity to forget about their crazy challenges and problems that we’re all facing and the stresses of school life in 2020 during a pandemic,” Epstein said.

Although the meetings attract people passionate about sports, Gareth Jones, a sophomore and regular attendee, believes that the club is for everyone and that you don’t need to be a sports fanatic to enjoy the meetings.

“If you currently don’t know a lot about sports and are interested in learning more, this is a great community to start out in because we’re not going to judge anybody for not knowing a lot,” Jones said. “We’ll introduce them to this world of sports that we all love. I think that we all enjoy just including everyone in it.”

The meetings start with an ice-breaker question to get everyone involved and talking, and then the floor is opened up for people to talk and joke around, whether it be about sports or not.

By creating this inclusive and upbeat environment, Epstein believes that the program fosters a sense of community that allows participants to connect with each other past strictly sports-related conversations.

“We’re trying to get to know each other as people in the venue of talking about sports,” Epstein said.

A mix of faculty and students that come to the meetings. Epstein thinks that this dynamic allows students to connect with their teachers outside the classroom.

“What’s really cool is when teachers show up. We have the opportunity for kids to bond over their love of sports or talk trash with a teacher if they don’t agree on something, so that’s just a really cool way to get to know your teachers in a different light,” Epstein said.

Although right now meetings are just over Zoom, members are looking for ways to expand Sports Bonanza for the future.

Now that the school has started its hybrid model, Jones is thinking of ways to transform Sports Bonanza into a club for the future.

“I would love for this to keep happening and maybe become a club in the future, like the Sports Discussion Club,” Jones said.

Epstein is also constantly looking for future guests to bring onto the Zooms. Some of the guest speakers that have attended Sports Bonanza so far have been names such as Kevin Youkilis, a former Red Sox player, and Andrew Raycroft, the former rookie of the year winning goaltender for the Bruins.

Isaac Brendal, a junior and regular attendee, sees all the great ways that Sports Bonanza has helped his everyday life and can help others too.

“These Zoom calls are for everyone,” Isaac said. “This is for people to feel like you belong to something or just have people to talk to. It’s a great thing.”