LAKE PLACID - Less than two years after the National Sports Academy underwent a financial overhaul and administrative restructuring, the school's enrollment dropped from 48 last year to 22 this fall, yet the new head of school says she's optimistic about the future.
"We've got some big plans for growth this year to get back to having a huge array of sports represented," said Interim Head of School Lisa Wint. "But right now, we are basically a boys hockey team, a luge athlete and a skier/rec athlete."
Wint replaced Kim Dow, who resigned in late July. Dow was promoted from academic dean to head of school in January 2013 during the restructuring process. Wint brings institutional memory to her new position.
National Sports Academy
(News photo — Andy Flynn)
"This is my 12th year with the school," Wint said. "I've been the academic dean, the college counselor and Spanish teacher. I think that I was probably the most tenured administrator that the school had, and so it was a logical thing where I could come in and preserve the culture and some of the really unique programs that made us who we are."
The Lake Placid-based private school for grades 8-12 and post graduates was founded as a winter tutorial program for student athletes in 1977 and has educated and trained 23 Olympians over the years.
NSA, located at 821 Mirror Lake Dr., had been struggling with financial difficulties due to the economic downturn, decreased enrollment, increased financial aid and debt before adopting a new recapitalization and business plan in January 2013.
Yet the poor economy continues to affect enrollment, according to Wint.
"Our enrollment numbers need to be much higher in order for us to get out of the hole that we're currently in, but the winter programs and some of the other things are going to help offset that low enrollment number to pull us through while we continue to recruit and grow," Wint said.
Enrollment for the past six years looks like this: 2014-15 - 22; 2013-14 - 48; 2012-13 - 60; 2011-12 - 65; 2010-11 - 56; and 2009-10 - 68.
Part of Wint's plan is to initiate heavy recruiting so NSA can field a second boys hockey team next year and bring back the girls hockey team. Last year, NSA had girls and boys hockey teams and a handful of individual athletes.
In addition, NSA officials plan to boost the winter program with athletes in sports such as luge and skiing. Students stay during the second and third quarters for the winter program.
"We support them academically while they're able to train and compete in the heat of their season," Wint said. "This often turns into a recruiting tool."
NSA will also be recruiting students for a winter recreational program in which students can experience what the Adirondack Park has to offer, including alpine and nordic skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing and skating.
"That's not necessarily what we want to be doing, but it's just a way to help us this year so we can get to the enrollment numbers that we need," Wint said. "This is very much a year of regrowth and working hard to solidify things."
Rebuilding will need to include recruiting more members for the Board of Trustees, as there are only three right now, and nurturing partnerships in town.
"We're going to really work with ORDA this year in creating a nordic program," Wint said. "And that could be a combination of ski jumpers, biathletes or just straight cross-country skiers."
New hires this year include Amy Cheyney-Seymour, who is back as an English and history teacher and site coordinator for virtual classes. She had been on the NSA staff in the 1990s. Daniele Beauman is the new math teacher. And Nicholas Unger is the new boys hockey coach and is teaching history.
For more information, visit online at www.nationalsportsacademy.com.