Bronxville is seen as the antithesis of Sarah Lawrence— for every one of their high school varsity lacrosse players, we are proud to offer up an experimental poet. The affluent suburb nestled in Westchester County, often referenced in pop culture (Mad Men, How I Met Your Mother, Friends) as the prime spot for Madison Ave. executives to drop off their housewives or raise a family not too far from the city. Former residents include Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith, DoD spokesman Kenneth Bacon, beloved novelist Washington Irving and many members of the Kennedy clan, most notably President John F. Kennedy. The hamlet tightened their strand of anti-semitism in the late 1950’s, actively discouraging Jewish residents and according to the 2000 census, the average family income was $200,000. An income that made Bronxville one of the most opulent areas in the country.
As the demographics of Bronxville change, the village’s proximity to Sarah Lawrence offers us a unique comparison of conventional versus unconventional, of traditional versus alternative, Bronxville versus Sarah Lawrence. Student athletes on campus often complain about the lack of school spirit or turnout at matches. Right wing midfielder Walker Aaron May’19 suggests that the core of the issue lies with the athletic program “being in the developmental stages. People underestimate what we can do and what our athletic teams are capable of.”
The Bronxville School’s Varsity Boys Soccer assistant coach Ricky Stephens spoke extensively of the K-12 school’s sense of history and community, of friends and teammates growing up together and of parents catching early Metro-North trains from work to support the Broncos.
The Sarah Lawrence and the Bronxville School boys soccer teams both played home games on the eleventh this month, both defeating their counterparts. The Gryphons: 1-0 against the Culinary Institute. The Broncos: 3-0 against the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. Usually garnering “anywhere from 200-400 students in the bleachers on any given weekday”, the Broncos’ stands were busier that Sunday afternoon than any athletic event at SLC any day, with some undergrads in the high school bleachers as well. Familiar scenes played out— parents laced their fingers through the wire fences, students held posters for their friends and both sides clapped as a Schechter defense player took a hit and limped off the field.
While Jorge Luis Borges argued that “soccer is popular because stupidity is popular”, due to its problematic ties to nationalism, blind mass following and propaganda that helped elevate fascist political regimes, many Sarah Lawrence students link athletic initiatives threaten the school’s character. With the addition of a women’s basketball team and the women’s soccer team’s upgrade to Division III, many upperclassmen view the new emphasis on athletics as part of the administration’s hidden agenda to “normalize” the school. Can our alternative approach to academics and university life be conducive to athletics and school spirit akin to other schools? Kenyon College, a fellow liberal arts school located in Gambier, Ohio, deals with similar problems. As Kenyon sophomore Oscar Dow’19 put it, “More people are on the football team than have ever attended their games.” Sarah Lawrence’s midfielder argues that time is the answer. May’19 says that “in the coming years, our morale will be boosted greatly” due to the progress made “by joining the NCAA and taking measures to recruit new student athletes.”
The Bronxville School and Sarah Lawrence College have shared the same zip code since they were established but few attempts have been made to bridge the clear divide. Stephens, a former soccer player and alum of the high school remarked, “the sheer proximity of the two schools makes it quite practical that a closer connection be forged.” “Speaking as a former BHS student,” Stephens believes “it could be rewarding for both sides given that there definitely seem to be differences in terms of cultural/social interests.” With the stereotypical image of our liberal arts college in his mind, he was unaware of the very existence of any sports teams at Sarah Lawrence but upon being informed, Stephens suggested a scrimmage between the two teams, which might, not only, bring our two respective communities together but our collective student body together as well. The ball is now in our court.
Vanilla Kalai Anandam ’19