The evolution of sports at Saint Stephen’s

How has the athletic program changed since the opening of the school?


David Glaser

The football field while being constructed.

This year, Saint Stephen’s celebrates its 50th anniversary as a school.  In honor of that milestone, we thought we’d go back in time to think about how sports and the athletic programs have changed and influenced students over the past five decades here at SSES.

Saint Stephen’s is known throughout the community primarily for a rigorous academic program, but the school is also respected as an outstanding athletic program. When the school first opened its doors in 1970, sports played a huge role in the lives of many student-athletes. From the beginning, students had the opportunity to participate in football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, and cheerleading.

It might be hard to imagine, but there was a time where athletes practiced and competed in the gym with no air conditioning. When the “state-of-the-art” gymnasium was completed in 1976 with brand new rubber flooring, students played with only a few fans to keep them cool.

By the end of the 1970’s, the athletic program had added baseball, softball, and tennis to their repertoire.

Nowadays, Falcons of all ages enjoy watching players from the gym bleachers, but originally, fans and spectators would watch the game from the second floor of the Hoagland Arena until the 1980s.  That’s when bleachers were added, making it easier (and more comfortable) to watch the action up close.

The 1990’s were pivotal years for the Falcons. Many sports facilities were upgraded and added to the campus. In 1997, the athletic field, known to many as Turner Fields, was completely renovated with brand new, modern softball and baseball fields. As the programs gained more traction, batting cages were added to the complex.

By request from many student-athletes, cross country and track were added to the list of sports by the end of the 90’s. Wrestling, swimming, and golf programs soon followed.

As the early 2000’s approached, the gym and field underwent additional renovations.

According to Athletic Director Lenny Paoletti, as the programs continued to grow, more athletes began to participate in multiple sports throughout the school year. Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon to see a student who plays more than one sport during a season..

Paoletti also credits the coaching staff for the numerous district, regional, and state titles that teams have won over the years. “I think it brings a lot of experience and maturity to the program. It brings a lot of confidence to the students that their coaches know what they are doing,” he said.

By 2013, the Moore Athletic Complex at Turner Fields was completed, featuring brand new turfgrass to the field as well as a Falcon Field House, which includes locker rooms and an athletic training center.  Additionally, the baseball and softball fields were totally revamped and a concession stand was built.  It was a whole new look.

“We have expanded our strength and conditioning program to every single varsity team because we want everyone to have a chance to be successful at their sport,” Paoletti explained. Not only does strength and conditioning help athletes to get stronger and faster, but it can also help prevent future injuries by ensuring everyone is staying healthy.

It is only with these countless renovations and improvements, coupled with the effort and enthusiasm of the Falcon athletes and coaches, that truly sets up today’s Falcons for success on the playing field.

“Winning is contagious,” Paoletti said. “Go out and win because then other teams will [do the same],” said Paoletti.