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New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

Sports Analytics Club’s odds for success appear high

Students see new club as haven for lovers of sports
Courtesy of Landon Drapatsky
Members of Sports Analytics Club pose for a group photo

Every Wednesday when the school day ends, a wave of boisterous students head to room 277 to make predictions about the future. For one hour, these students ask questions such as “Who’s going to win Friday—New Trier vs Homewood-Flossmoor” and “Who will win the Arnold Palmer Invitational this weekend?” 

These students are part of the Sports Analytics Club, a new club that junior Landon Drapatsky launched last November. He started the club alongside juniors Chris Ackerman, Connor Hirschtritt, and Grant Perlberg, to provide students with a place to converse on sports and the mathematics behind it. 

You get to learn more about sports that you might not have found interesting before

— Ryan Longstreth

Over the past few months, the club has had a weekly attendance of about 25 to 30 students. During club meetings, students engage in activities such as Kahoots, debates, and projects. 

To reach more students at New Trier, Drapatsky has created an active presence for the club on Instagram, which has garnered over 100 followers and he has put up flyers around the school and made morning announcements to attract students to the club. 

Club leaders have also hosted guest speakers to showcase various ways to make a career as a sports analyst. So far, the club has hosted Ben Rosenkranz, the director of strategy and analytics for the Chicago Blackhawks, and Karen Murphy, the senior vice president of business strategy and the chief financial officer for the Chicago Bears.

Drapatsky was very excited about the guest speakers, and when Rosenkranz spoke, students asked many questions. 

Ben Rosenkranz, director of strategy and analytics for the Chicago Blackhawks, speaks to members of Sports Analytics Club (Courtesy of Landon Drapatsky)

“We had our largest turnout [when Rosenkranz spoke] and kids came and listened. They asked a lot of questions and it was overall just a fun and great time,” Drapatsky says. 

A staple activity at every club meeting is the weekly picks, where club members can make educated guesses on upcoming games, and the more accurate they are, the more points they earn. 

Every weekend, Drapatsky grades the weekly picks. At the next club meeting, he then announces who made the weekly leaderboard and the overall leaderboard. At the end of the year, the top scorer will get a special prize, which has yet to be determined.

 “[The weekly picks] just keep kids engaged because the more they come, the more chances they have to get points to win…prizes,” Drapatsky says.

Members of Sports Analytics Club work on their weekly picks (Courtesy of Landon Drapatsky)

Junior Colin Souers says that the weekly picks are competitive. 

“You don’t want to be last [on the leaderboard] because that’s embarrassing,” Souers says. 

Sophomore Ryan Longstreth says the club teaches him about sports he was not previously interested in. 

“I don’t know much about hockey, but one of the guys that run this club, they play hockey, so you get to learn more about sports that you might not have found interesting before,” Longstreth says. 

Aside from the weekly picks, club members are sometimes asked to answer questions through a data-informed lens. A recent question asked was what rule in sports they would want to change. 

Hirschtritt says he wanted to see what happens when you take the number of points scored in the last two minutes of each quarter and that becomes what happens in the last two minutes of each half. Based on that change, Hirschtritt would look to see what impact that had on the total points scored in a game, revenue, and media coverage. 

As club members engage in activities, Drapatsky works alongside the other club leaders to ensure that students enjoy the club and that the friendly club environment remains. He does that by starting up conversations with club members and challenging their opinions. 

Members of Sports Analytics Club hang out with each other (Courtesy of Landon Drapatsky)

“If a kid comes, and they’re on their phone, they can do that anywhere, but when you come to the club and talk with other people about sports and about different events [and] different stats, that makes them happy,” Drapatsky says.  

Drapatsky was happy to take on a leadership role after previous involvement in  DECA, Model UN, and Entrepreneurship. 

“I enjoy seeing other kids happy and seeing other kids thrive and talking to other kids,” Drapatsky says.

Longstreth says the club is open to anyone, not just people with background knowledge about sports.  

“People would be here to help give you advice,” Longstreth says. “Give you teams to start watching, sleeper picks for teams that might do well next year even though they were horrible this year.” 

At the end of the day, Longstreth, a club member since day one, sees the club as a place to have a good time. 

“Sports just bring people together,” Longstreth says.

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