“How does an art school have a basketball team???” — This is most people’s reaction when they hear about the New School Narwhals. The New School doesn’t only have a basketball team, but an entire athletics and recreation department. Students from all the different schools can try out and join all of the teams.
This year, The New School basketball team actually doesn’t have ANY Parsons students on it though. The basketball team started in 2009. The 2014-15 season was the first time that there were no Parsons students on the team. The lack of Parsons students on the court translated to a huge absence of Parsons students in the crowds.
I seem to be one of very few Parsons students at the games when I go. We should try to build up our fan base because it will help encourage our players to do well and it will show our New School Spirit! Our small fan base has been doing the job so far, fighting with the Cooper Union parents when a bad call is made or cheering as loud as we can over the opposing fans who completely outnumber us. But we could always use more support and at this point, more players. The team is in jeopardy of losing funding and getting cut from the department because there aren’t enough players on the team.
I spoke to three members of the basketball team, Dustin Sodano Jesse Futterman, and Max Resetar about what it’s like to play for the New School.
Can women play?
Max Resetar: Women are most definitely allowed to play, but playing time is based on skill and commitment to the program. Nothing is given. Playing time is earned.
Who do you play against?
Dustin Sodano: Our biggest rivals are schools like Cooper Union, Pratt, and Culinary Institute of America. We also play some D3 varsity and junior varsity schools around NYC. We have an annual tournament with Cooper Union, RISD, and MassArt.
Is it NCAA-affliated?
Jesse Futterman: No, but we abide by the NCAA rules and regulations. For instance, if Coach offered me a stretch Hummer, I would have to decline..
How often do you practice?
Dustin Sodano: 3 times a week, 2-3 hours each time.
Is it hard to balance being on the team with school work and classes?
Max Resetar: Every student at TNS takes schoolwork very seriously, especially Parsons kids. Our coaches are very serious about us making time to do homework. Time management is a key skill to have and it’s not always easy balancing the team and classes, especially because most professors don’t know about the squad. Luckily, the coaching staff is very understanding when it comes to homework and if a player has to miss a practice or a film session, it’s not the end of the world.
How long is the season?
Max Resetar: The season starts in late October and is spaced out to early March.
Jesse Futterman: 24/7, 365 1/4 days-a-year. 365 if it is a non-leap year, and 366 if it is a leap year. People will sometimes ask me, “Jesse, what are you going to do once the season is over?” To which I reply, “What do you mean, (Name)?” Everyday of my life since the first day has been dedicated to basketball. The season remains constant, what changes is the letters on the front of the uniform. My number changes too, but as I see it, I might as well wear an infinity symbol.
What’s it like being a New School athlete?
Dustin Sodano: I tell people “I played college basketball.” That’s not a lie. But playing at The New School is certainly different from any other form of organized school-associated basketball teams. We don’t have a gym, we have 1 color jersey, none of my classmates or professors know the team exists, and our athletic director jumps at opportunities to shut down the program. The team is a great group of people and basketball talent, but you have to work hard as a student to keep the team alive. I would not be comfortable going to my high school and saying to the current team, “Hey, if you want to play college ball, think about going to The New School.” I loved being on the team more than any other part of my TNS experience, but it’s not for everyone.
Where do you play?
Jesse Futterman: We play at schools all around the city: Washington-Irving, Baruch, Pratt, Pace University, Medgar Evers College, and sometimes we go upstate or to Boston or Rhode Island. Not that you asked, but my dream is to play at Madison Square Garden. If the school could somehow book a game at the Garden, I’d be eternally grateful. In fact, that’s where I’m setting the bar for next season, if the New School Narwhals don’t play at the Garden, I’m going on strike.
Are games free to attend?
Dustin Sodano: Yes. If we had a bigger budget we’d probably pay people to come. We get very few fans.
Do you get good turnouts at games?
Dustin Sodano: Someone once told me, “if this was an orphanage instead of a school, you’d have no fans.” There are usually not a lot of fans, although we have had some games with a good amount of support from fellow TNS students. If we had a gym on campus, I’m sure more people would show up.
How can you encourage Parsons students and other New School students to come to games or to join the team?
Jesse Futterman: Basketball is a part of the cultural fabric that makes up New York City, therefore, to attend a game is to participate in the cultural experience of New York City directly. If the experience is not compelling enough, I’m willing to perform half-time stunts and give away free stuff. Also, we’re probably more exciting to watch than that third season of whatever-show you’re streaming on Netflix. I encourage those who are tucked away in dorm rooms eating Chinese food, or grinding tirelessly in studios to come out to a game and see if you like it. You can even come just to talk trash to me. If you come to a game, I guarantee entertainment!
How has almost getting cut from the department encouraged you to fight for your team?
Max Resetar: Potentially losing funding for the team has left us with no decision but to fight for the team’s life. We all have immense pride in the team and I consider my teammates an extension of my family. None of us want to lose that, or have what we’re building be ended prematurely, so we’re all chipping in with recruiting and raising awareness for the squad. We’ve put in so much work. We can’t lose it now, because we’re getting so much better. We finished with the best record in school history last season. We want to finish with an even better record next season, so we’re all gonna do whatever it takes to convince administration that this team means so much to all of us and our family and friends.
Like the rest of The New School’s athletes, the basketball team is extremely dedicated, and they get very little recognition in our huge university. Not only should Parsons students come out and support the team, but all New Schoolers should. Spread the word about the team. Use your creative skill. And if you have athletic skills, then definitely try out for the team to help them meet the minimum player requirement. Help save the Narwhals!