BY ALBERT ROMAN
The Queens Vocational and Technical High School varsity baseball team is an exemplification of team unity on and off the field.
This season, the Tigers currently sit in first place of the Queens A North Division with an 11-2 record. The team’s offense is a key force behind the success as they average 12.8 runs per games, including 24 runs against Information Technology High School.
Head coach Robert Schimenz, who is currently in his 20th season, leads the team. He believes that despite the team’s hot run, they must remain focused and not ease up on opponents.
“Two times this year, where we won strong, we came back for the second game against the same team and we lost big and I think that was us maybe getting a little ahead of ourselves. Part of it is reminding them that any team can win and it’s not about who has a better record. It’s about who works harder for that win and who plays smarter,” Schimenz said.
The offense is led by senior Yiannis Koutsoumbaris, who is having a tremendous season. He is tied for the leading batting average in the entire Public School Athletic League with a 0.667 average. He also leads the division in homeruns (3), on-base percentage (0.756), runs (28), wins (5) and earned run average (0.53).
“Yiannis has been a dynamite kid. He’s having a great season and has been a positive force. He’s been someone the guys look to for a source of strength. He’s a good student, so he sets that example as well,” Schimenz said.
His teammate, senior Brandon Fernandez, is also having a solid season. He’s hitting 0.579 with 23 runs and 26 RBIs.
The offense is not the sole reason behind the team’s success. Schimenz, who also teaches social studies and journalism, strides to enhance the team’s bond beyond their work on the field.
“We’ve played together well. That’s something we try to focus on when we first do try outs in September. We try to bring the team together through a lot of team building activities. They often have nothing to do with baseball,” Schimenz said.
Schimenz sits down with seniors before games and allows them to construct the lineup. He wants the team to have a say on planning for games. For the first time in 14 years, the team possesses no captain.
“It gives them ownership. It makes them think, hey, we’re responsible for this game because we decided who was going to go where, rather than thinking, ‘Coach you screwed up.’ They’re involved in all those decisions. And it’s something for the younger kids to aspire to,” Schimenz said.
The Tigers look to use team unity to continue building momentum heading into the playoffs. Last season, the team’s season came to a conclusion with a 4-3 loss to Metropolitan Campus in the First Round of the PSAL playoffs. The team last captured a championship in 2007. While winning a championship is the ultimate goal, learning valuable life lessons can go further than a trophy or banner.
“We won the championship 10 years ago and my line was [that] I never asked God for a championship team, I asked him for a team that represented our school well and that means more to me than anything. We go places, we behave well, we represent our school, there’s no negative chanting, everything is positive and it has to be,” Schimenz said. “I’ve always said I’m a teacher first and I know there is so much more than remembering what your record is.”