With the U.S. Open so much in the air right now, my mind doesn’t turn to Flushing Meadows, but rather right here to 27th Street where, for years, we have been turning out championship tennis teams. That may be surprising to many people who don’t automatically link FIT with tennis or soccer or any sport, for that matter. But the fact is we have 15 teams that compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association which is made up of about 600 two-year colleges across the country. And last year alone, four of our teams placed in the top ten nationally–with the women’s tennis team coming in second two years in a row.
The strength of the FIT athletics and recreation program has been years in the making with a dedicated director and coaches patiently developing teams that meet our students’ needs. But our students are natural competitors. They arrive at FIT filled with career ambitions, and the athletes among them apply that same fierce competitive zeal on the playing fields.
The upshot is that every year we have a roster of winning teams at both the regional and national level. Last year we had two regional team championships: women’s cross country and women’s volleyball. Both of them placed in the top ten nationally, along with the women’s half marathon and, as I mentioned, women’s tennis.
It may sound as if we have no men’s teams–but we do: men compete in cross country, half marathon, outdoor track, swimming, tennis and so on. And over the years, many of our men’s teams also placed high or the men themselves received All-American honors. It didn’t happen last year, but I am rooting for them for the coming year.
As an educator, it is important to me that our athletes find the right balance between their scholastic and athletic lives. And every year, they make me proud. Among the most prestigious athletic awards college athletes can win are those that recognize their academic achievements as well. Last year, eight of our teams won national all-academic team recognition, including men’s tennis (with a group 3.39 GPA), women’s swimming (group 3.44) and the women’s half marathon team (3.80)–which placed first in the country. Thirteen of our students–with GPA’s ranging from 3.6 to 3.9–were individually recognized as well.
And while I am bragging, I might as well point out that our teams, all called the FIT Tigers, wear the best-looking, sharpest, COOLEST uniforms in the country. This is the Fashion Institute of Technology after all.