It has been one first after another for the students of the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush. The school, described as a “small, special admittance, comprehensive high school that focuses on the arts,” opened in September 2008.
This year, the school — under leadership from Principal Jessica Brown and Athletic Director Kevin Katz — was granted its first sports by the School District’s Office of Athletics: JV basketball (teams for boys and girls), co-ed JV track and Varsity Soccer. The Varsity team was granted because Public League girls soccer does not have a JV program; the players could have been forced to play “an exhibition year” with all of the games counting only as scrimmages. However, Director Jack Creighton allowed the team to play in the lowest division as a full-fledged Varsity team
. Chelsie Gault, a captain on the team said, “This team is incredible. The girls work hard to try to improve.” Chelsie, who most recently played for Fishtown, is one of only a handfull of girls with any club experience. In fact, only one player, ninth grader Veronica Zgura, currently plays for a club team outside of school (Parkwood). Most of the players are beginners and about four or five never touched a soccer ball before this year. One of those first-time players is Laura Danila, who was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and scored the school’s first ever Varsity goal. Laura took a pass from Chelsea at the 18, turned and fired then…giggled, screamed and ran back to the center line to be congratulated by her team mates. She is a basketball player who, before this year, never even though of playing soccer. “They’re talking about it around school….it’s fun to be part of,” some of the players said at the following day’s practice. Coach Todd Corabi, who coaches for Rush but teaches at the Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, said, “This team is fun. It’s a lot of work coming all the way up here everyday, but it’s worth seeing them have fun together. I can tell some of them didn’t know what they were getting themselves into since this is a varsity team. It’s fun seeing them improve each day and each game, and it’s really cool seeing our ninth and tenth graders competing with other schools — 11th and 12th graders, too. I know it’s the lowest division, but we’re only going to get better.”