— May 7, 2021 —
Interview with Director of Athletics and Physical Education Teacher, Diesa Seidel
Where are you originally from? That’s a multilayered question… My Austrian father and French mother met and got married in New York City. They moved to Toronto, Canada for a few years while my Dad finished his Ph.D… That’s where my older brother and I were born. When I was 4 years old, we moved to a small town in upstate New York, Red Hook, which is where I consider my “hometown.”
Where did you study? After high school, I received a full scholarship to play D1 basketball at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.
Why did you want to work in education? Growing up, I was a very active child, and eager to play any and all sports. In high school, I used to get special permission to go to extra PE classes during my “study hall” hour and was a 3 sport varsity athlete (cross-country, track & field, basketball). I always knew if I wasn’t playing sports, I would be teaching sports. Sure, everyone likes to play games… but the hidden intrinsic lessons we find through conquering challenges, overcoming adversity, perseverance, and teamwork are ultimately the pillars that make a great athlete and a great person.
Is there a better profession than playing games with kids all day while witnessing them unleash their superpowers? I think not…
What is your best memory at SDFAS? There are many to choose from, but here is one historical memory that stands out…
In 2016, I only had 4 girls sign up for basketball (middle school sports league). With only 4 players, I clearly did not have enough to field a team, let alone win a game. Before our first game, I somehow managed to recruit 4 more girls to join the team. Out of my 8 players, 6 had never touched a basketball before. Agh, this was going to be a tough season. All the other league coaches were bragging about how amazing their teams were this year, I could only cower in silence and hope that we wouldn’t get blown out by 20. How could we ever get through this?
I decided the only way we would have a chance as a team, was to use their raw athletic ability and full-court press the other teams. All game. Every game. The full-court defensive mayhem was called “sauvage” (which means ‘savage’ in French). For 40 minutes, these sweet hardworking girls turned into Les Sauvages.
We won our first game 30-0. Our 2nd game, against the self-proclaimed best team in the league, was a 12-9 overtime victory.
Wins were followed by more Wins. I was astonished. The heart and intensity that these girls had, outplayed any talent and expertise that our opponents played with.
We made the playoffs and won a close game in the semi-finals. We were headed to the league championship game – undefeated. The championship game: We trailed early in the game 0-4 and entered half-time losing 4-12. It seemed our fate to win was slipping away. Being down by 8 points at this level is like being down by 25. Surely impossible to recover. Or was it?
We rallied and fought. We called time-outs to redirect the momentum. We changed our plays. The girls may have felt defeat in their hearts at times but continued to play with unparalleled intensity. There was nothing Les Sauvages couldn’t accomplish.
We won the finals 19-17. We were the undefeated league champions. A first in school history. With a team out of nowhere, beating the odds, and teaching me that anything is possible. Always.
In honor of this special team, every year, each basketball season, the SDFAS full-court press defensive is always called “Sauvage”.
What do you love about your job the most? Working in an international environment with a team of Jedis is pretty fantastic… building relationships with my students and watching them compete in high school (and college!) athletics is quite special… and, of course, being part of stories like Les Sauvages is unparalleled.
Photo: 2016 SDFAS girls basketball team (aka, “Les Sauvages”): undefeated league champions