The King football team has garnered a lot of attention in Stamford this fall, and not just because of a change in the school name from the more cumbersome King & Low-Heywood Thomas. The Vikings, behind Division I prospects Silas Redd, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Eric Joyner, are off to a 2-0 start heading into this weekend’s Fairchester Athletic Association showdown with Brunswick, and have one of the strongest teams in the programs’s history (check out colleague Emery Filmer’s upcoming stories this week on Pierre-Louis and the team).
But the football team’s success has served as an eclipse, overshadowing the fact that the entire King sports program has been flourishing this season. The volleyball team, behind Briana Brown and Alex Smyth, is 6-0 and ranked No. 6 in NEPSAC, the New England private school association. The boys soccer team is 2-1-2, with Kyle Luneberg, Gordon Bray and Nicholas Hall-Risko leading the way. The girls soccer team is 3-2 behind Lauren Karp and Summer Segalas. The girls cross country team is solid.
“This is clearly the best teams we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Tom Decker, who has been at King for 10 years, the last five as athletic director. “Everyone is talking about how the football team is doing well, but it is really all of our teams.”
There have been several reasons for King’s success, outside of a strong stable of athletes and a good coaching staff. Decker credited former athletic director and current Westhill football coach Dick Cerone for instituting a 5th and 6th grade sports program that has served as a good feeder system.
“A lot of this is the culmination of that seven years ago,” said Decker, who was the assistant AD at the time. “There are 270 kids here at the upper school and many of them are multi-sport athletes.”
Decker has also done an outstanding job overseeing the entire sports program, providing support and taking an interest in all the teams and their athletes. He has proved a top-notch administrator.
And the support of Tom Main, the head of school, cannot be discounted. Main recognizes that a strong sports program — indeed the importance of all extracurriculars — is an important part of the educational process. He is a regular presence at all games.
It is worth noting that King’s achievements have come without compromising its academic mandate. It is not unusual for private schools to recruit top athletes and turn a blind eye to their efforts in the classroom. King has never followed this path.
“We’re looking for good kids first and foremost, and then the opportunity to look for good students and then good athletes,” Decker said.
It is a formula that has worked pretty well, as has been evident on King’s fields and in its gymnasium this fall.