In one of the most unique challenges to date, the third Oswego County Academic Youth League competition featured a musical/historical sports theme.
The event, the brainchild of Pulaski coach Melissa Osborne and Altmar-Parish-Williamstown coach Eric Lanious, combined two cultural classics – opera and sports, all while tapping into the students’ musical creativity, understanding of the sports world and some pretty historical events and happenings in the sporting realm.
The students were required to choose a sports-related event and then write and perform a one-act opera about that event, all in less than two hours time.
The teams of up to 10 students brought with them skills and knowledge in vocal and instrumental music, music theory, performance, costuming and scenery, language arts, creativity, interpersonal communication, time management and a knowledge of sports past and present.
The teams chose from nine different historical sporting events (or stories) from which to base their original operetta.
Events were selected from a list that included Jackie Robinson’s integration of Major League Baseball, terrorism at the Munich Olympics, Lance Armstrong’s fraudulent Tour de France victories, the Black Sox scandal, The Miracle on Ice and several more.
All parts of the performance needed to be sung in English, with musical accompaniment, and lyrics that pertained to the event they selected. In addition to the musical performance, the students wore costumes created using plain white T-shirts, scenery using a plain white backdrop, all within a daunting two-hour timeframe in which to write, practice, and submit their written librettos, and then perform them in the auditorium at SUNY Oswego’s student center.
Performances included renditions on the 1980 Miracle on Ice USA hockey win over the USSR, the 1921 White Sox throwing of the World Series, Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the race barrier in professional baseball and a moving portrayal of the 1972 Olympic kidnapping and killing of Israeli athletes and coaches in Munich, Germany.
Not an easy task, judging was based on accuracy and understanding of the event, creativity of costumes and scenery, creativity and originality of music, and the performance.
Medals were awarded to the top three teams in the competition with the gold going to the team from Oswego High School. The silver, second place medals, went to the Fulton G. Ray Bodley High School team and bronze, third place, was awarded to the team from Pulaski High School.
The fourth, and final, OCAY League competition is scheduled for May 17, at which time the fourth competition champion will be named and then an overall season winner will be announced.
OCAY League was organized in the spring of 1997 with the idea that academics merit a standing comparable to athletics.
Students’ academic skills are challenged and showcased in a wide variety of competitive events that emphasize scholastic excellence, team building, leadership and creativity.
A particular strength of the league is its emphasis on cooperative problem solving.
OCAY League is coordinated through Oswego County BOCES’ Instructional Support Services as part of the Gifted and Talented Programs cooperative services.