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Benson Polytechnic High School student athletes explain what sports mean to …

Benson Polytechnic High School students rejoiced this week when Portland Public Schools officials confirmed the Northeast Portland school would have all its sports next year.

Benson students, parents and alumni had believed they had lost fall sports when district athletic director Marshall Haskins left Benson off the fall football schedule he submitted to OSAA.

Thursday, Jon Isaacs, Superintendent Carole Smith’s senior policy advisor, said the district had never planned to eliminate sports at the Northeast Portland High School. But district high school director Tripp Goodall did tell principals and coaches at Benson and Jefferson High School Wednesday that they would have all sports next year.

In that wake of that announcement, we talked with a few Techman athletes. Four students shared their thoughts with The Oregonian about what Benson sports have meant to them.

James Tompkins.jpegView full sizeJames Tompkins
James Tompkins, sophomore:

“Playing sports at Benson is my home away from home. It’s my sanctuary. It’s my utopia. On the football field, I can block out everyone and anything. It is my time to improve myself, not only as a player but as a person.

It’s a life lesson, if you read between the lines. Without sports you can’t identify yourself as a person. There is no individualism in the crowd of people, no one to say, “Oh yeah I saw you get that pick-6 last night at the game!” and bringing a smile to their face.

Playing basketball reminds me of old memories with old friends, but they are now becoming new memories with new friends. Cracking jokes in the locker room after practice, or getting your buddy back for ripping the ball from you.

Track is my sport where I don’t need the help of anyone. It is all on me to be the first. It’s fun at practice when we run 200 or 400 meters. When you challenge your friends you are running with that they can’t beat you. So you run your hardest to see who’s the best, always trying to better yourself and others. But by the end of the day you are not racing your friends, blocking your buddy’s shot or getting that big hit on your team mate. You are there with your family, your Techmen and Techsters working hard with you to better themselves and the school.
I know without sports I would drop out of high school. Kids want to play the sport that they love. But without the grades, there is no sport. I use sports to keep myself in cheek with school. I have to be passing all my classes to play football, basketball or run track. Without good grades how do I do the things I love? I can’t, and I’m sure I have other classmates that can agree with me on this. If someone loves something, they will do everything they can to get it. So keeping up in school is top priority before anything else if you want to play your sport. The people playing now are inspiring kids to want to be a part of Benson in the future. They are brought back old memories of past Benson players. Making them came back every week to see how the team is doing, how they are improving, to remember the feeling of being on the court or the field during a game.”

Benjamin Gilmore.jpegView full sizeBenjamin Gilmore
Benjamin Gilmore, sophomore:

“To most people, football is a game they watch Friday and Sunday night. But to me, it is a lifestyle.

I get good grades in school for football so I can have a future in it. It is my dream to play football In college, and if football is taken away I would never be able to make that dream come true.”


Benson student Thomas Wallberg.jpgView full sizeThomas Wallberg
Thomas Wallberg, junior:

“I play three sports: football, baseball and wrestling. My freshman year would have been very hard if there were no sports. Benson, not being a neighborhood school, is a new beginning in more ways than one. My friends from middle school made the choice of a different high school. 

Being involved in a sport allowed me to meet new people and establish friendships with people who have the same interests. I want the new freshman to have the same experience I had. Sports have taught me a lot about life. They have taught me never to give up when things get hard, always go your hardest, and how to be a good teammate. Without sports, high school would just be school.”

Belinda Sabang.jpgView full sizeBelinda Sabang
Belinda Sabang, junior:

“Before I came to Benson, I
played basketball and softball because it was my way of blocking out the
world and getting stress off my shoulders. At firs,t I didn’t want to
go out for both sports at Benson because it was my freshmen year and I
didn’t know anyone. But now I’m really glad I did go tryout and joined
both sports because I got to play in a team with other girls who loved
the sports I played, and I also got to make new friends. Playing sports
at Benson really helped me keep my grades up and stay on track in school
because if I didn’t have good grades, I wouldn’t be able to play my two
favorite sports.” 

— Casey Parks

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