The Bees will buzz one last time in their old hive.
The Bridgehampton School will indeed have a varsity squad to close out its storied gym that is going to be repurposed as part of the district’s multi-million dollar expansion. There was talk, albeit short, that the school could forgo a varsity season and go with strictly a junior varsity team this winter due to a limited roster with very young and inexperienced players. Administrators, parents, players and coaches met on August 19 to go over all the options.
That, along with an article written by The Press, led to school officials releasing the following statement, through their public relations firm Syntax, in the late afternoon on August 21: “Subsequent to the printing of the article ‘Bridgehampton School May Not Have A Varsity Basketball Team This Winter,’ a decision has been made to continue to have a boys varsity basketball team, according to Bridgehampton Principal Michael Miller.”
The release quotes Miller as saying: “This decision is based on carefully garnering input from our athletes, parents, community and coaching staff. We look forward to the continued tradition of excellence by the Bridgehampton student athletes.”
Ron White, the head coach of the Killer Bees and president of the Bridgehampton School Board, said that the decision to stick with a varsity team for the upcoming season was really a simple one.
“We’ve always had a varsity team. With the exception of a few times, we’ve never had a JV team,” he said. “The ultimate goal every year is to have a varsity team. Granted, we may have more underclassmen than upperclassmen at the moment, but it was really a no-brainer to go ahead with varsity.
“All the kids are raring to go, I just have to make sure I do my job and teach them as best as possible,” White added.
The Killers Bees are one of the most storied programs on the East End, thanks, in large part, to their nine New York State Class D titles, but they were also recently thrust into the limelight with the making of “Killer Bees,” a documentary on the team created by Bridgehampton natives Benjamin and Orson Cummings that has gotten national acclaim and the backing of basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal.
But with the team losing a number of key players to graduation last season, including J.P. Harding, Jahqur Carr, Jonny DeGroot and Nat DePasquale, the incoming team would be extremely young — more than half of the players would be freshmen. Because of that, the school wanted to go over its options, such as just having a JV team. Doing so, though, would mean that the two seniors expected to be on the team wouldn’t be able to play their final seasons, at least not at Bridgehampton. Rules dictated by Section XI, the governing body of Suffolk County high school athletics, make it clear that seniors are not permitted to play on a JV team.
White felt like the situation may have gotten blown out of proportion. With such a small pool of players to choose from to begin with, coaches and school officials have to assess if there are enough players each year to field both varsity and junior varsity squads.
Typically, with more upperclassmen than underclassmen, the decision to go with a varsity team is an easy one to make. But with that situation reversed for the first time in years, the school wanted to make a thoughtful decision on where its players should be placed for the upcoming season.
“This is what we do every year. Sometimes the answers come a lot quicker, but each year we assess the situation,” White said. “It’s not always set in stone. You have to look at the numbers and try and gauge the interest of the kids and move based on what years have what. As an administration team, and as coaches, we figure out, is there a chance to have a JV and varsity? That was the scenario in this case. We were dealing with a situation where the bulk of the players could have been JV, but after a very brief conversation, we opted to go out there and compete to the best of our ability.
“We are a varsity team and we’re going to move forward, even though we have five guys who are literally coming up from the junior high program,” he added.