Instructors often make use of the students' interest in sports to facilitate the teaching of other subjects. In physics force and momentum are explained in terms of pitched baseballs; in math teachers zero in on sports statistics. Julian Holland, who has coached the boys' basketball team to a 93-28 record over five seasons, tells his American history students of sickly young Teddy Roosevelt boxing and lifting weights to build up his strength. "I try to make it something they can relate to," he says.
Of course, not everyone is happy with, or at, CAPE. Last February, D.J. Boston, a 6'6" sophomore on the basketball team, became academically ineligible under CAPE's higher standards; he transferred this fall to his local high school. Such moves are not uncommon. "We get a lot of kids who think they're here to play," says Maher. Recalcitrant students go back to their neighborhoods.
In complaining that CAPE has unfair advantages, coaches from rival high schools allege that it receives a disproportionate share of city athletic funds and takes many of the best athletes from their districts, sometimes through recruiting, which is prohibited under state athletic association rules. However, Joe Bell, athletic director for the Cincinnati public school system, says CAPE gets "exactly the same amount" for sports equipment as the city's seven other high schools and only slightly more to pay coaches, a result of having more varsity teams. Bell also argues that no case of recruiting has ever been documented. "CAPE is kind of in a fishbowl," he says. "Everybody's watching closely, including myself."
The fact is, CAPE has some obvious advantages in sports. It is designed to attract athletically inclined students and help them develop. Still, it hasn't swept up all, or even most, of Cincinnati's good young athletes. Only one third of CAPE's students even play interscholastic sports. But those athletes do show a remarkable understanding of their bodies and the ways of caring for them. Asked how he treated his sore shoulder last spring, senior pitcher Tim McFadden says with a shrug, "I just went in and put a hydrocollator on it. It stimulates the muscle and brings blood to the area." When senior Tim Jones injured his shoulder playing soccer, he went to his doctor and said, "I think I pulled the deltoid from the attachment at the humerus." The startled doctor concurred.
CAPE is now drawing national attention. San Diego and St. Louis have set up similar schools on lower grade levels, and Kansas City is planning to build a virtual clone of CAPE as part of a court-ordered desegregation program. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recently sent a crew to the school to make a film.
CAPE's goal, however, remains nothing more than to turn out students who are literate, health-conscious and socially aware. The message is getting through. Last spring's final issue of The CAPE Connection, the school paper, included a "senior prophecy" that foresaw graduates not only playing some day for the Reds, Celtics and Dolphins, but also curing AIDS and leukemia, fighting racism and running homes for abused children. These are students with hope and ambition.
Those are traits the football-playing Crusaders are beginning to evince in good measure. They followed up their win at Alter by beating Columbus Northland 41-12 last Friday night and remain in contention for the playoffs and a chance to defend their state title. No matter what happens, Sheehan can look to next season optimistically, knowing that 17 of his starters will return. This, he says, was supposed to be a rebuilding year anyway. Obviously, his team's future—like that of the innovative school it represents—is bright.