Big Win for Nyack’s Summit School Boys Basketball Shows Student Resilience

The Boys’ basketball team at the Summit School in Nyack defeated Summit Queens in the Metro League’s championship game this past March. While the win reflects coaching skill, athleticism, and teamwork all around, the durability of the team’s players means the most to the Summit Nyack community at large. The Summit School educates and provides counseling to youth who experience severe mental health challenges. Over the course of their time in school, staff hope to instill students with the inspiration to create a solid set of post-graduation goals. They then motivate them to work towards those goals and provide them with a network of support.

For the athletes at Nyack, basketball is an outlet for their emotions. Assistant Coach Sean Siegriest reflects on the difference between working with aspiring D1 athletes at a local area high school to the students at Summit Nyack,

“…[the students are grateful] for the opportunity just to be able to play a game that may make them feel a little bit better for the day. You know you got kids here with social-emotional issues, you got kids here with depression and all different types of issues that they go through on a daily basis. So [it’s rewarding] just to see them… overcome that and smile on their face and just kind of relax and let loose and just be themself, you know?”

The boost of contentment that comes with playing basketball motivates every player to continue practicing, including two of the team’s stars – Josh Trevor and Trey Shawn Clegg. Josh believes the school’s internal set of rules each student must follow to play on the team pushed him to perform better in the classroom and forced him to positively structure his life,

“If you don’t have the grades and you’re not going to class and you’re skipping school and you’re doing the wrong things, you’re not going to be able to play. All of us got to school on time and when some of us didn’t, they weren’t allowed to play. That just showed us how serious it is. And we all did really well in school… It was really great and I needed it a lot even though I wouldn’t think I did.”

Coach Sean believes one of the greatest benefits of the Summit School in Nyack is that the staff incentivizes students to show up to class and participate by providing opportunities for students to play sports, create in the arts, or just hang out with farm animals. Students have a variety of options to choose an activity they like and if they want to participate in it, they will become structured, balancing class performance with after-school activities, so they will bond with others while learning to be accountable for themselves.

Regulated activities like basketball are great for motivating students to find balance in their lives, but the bonds that form, among students and between staff and students, are critical for long-term success. Trey Shawn Clegg says one of the greatest things the coaches at Nyack taught him was to move on from his in-game mistakes, to avoid dwelling on them, and instead focus on the moment and recognize that it’s just a game in the end. This type of guidance that comes even in the midst of performing his favorite activity is the reason why Trey chose to come to the school in the first place. Before arriving at the Summit School in Nyack, he had stopped going to school and started cutting after his mom died. He enrolled at the Summit School in Nyack after he had decided,

“I don’t want to be any more behind than I already am in life because of unfortunate events… ‘let me just get on my feet and do what I gotta do.’”

Once he got to Summit, Trey immediately challenged the best player on the basketball team and decided he would become the best. “That’s what kind of helped me solidify who I am today here. Basketball was what really started it.” Post-graduation, Trey is looking for a job in retail which he can use to pay for college, where he would like to continue playing basketball.

As for Josh Trevor, the biggest thing he has gotten from Summit is that he has realized that a basketball team is really a group of friends for life,

“Everyone is very supportive… for basketball, we have a really supportive team and it’s a family not really just friends. It’s more than going out there and playing. It’s also going out there and playing with some of the best people that I know. I love all of them. Every teammate that is on the team to the last guy.”