Devan Ramachandran: Leader of the Misfits
By Ryan Byrnes and Nick Firman
Photo courtesy of the Jamesville-DeWitt Athletic Department
Tennis and volleyball.
These two sports certainly don’t play in front of sell-out crowds or make it into lengthy articles in the newspapers. Adoring girls don’t wear their away jerseys to the home games. There isn’t a celebratory dance after one of their matches.
Their hard work and dedication seem to go unnoticed each and every season.
Jamesville-DeWitt High School senior Devan Ramachandran, however, doesn’t seem to care.
“Some of the non-popular sports are just as competitive and fun as the popular ones,” says Ramachandran. “You might shine in an area you wouldn’t have expected.”
“It may be a little more difficult to get recognized in a lower profile sport, but if you demonstrate excellence in your sport, you will get noticed by people that are inside or outside of those sports circles,” says J-DHS chemistry teacher and varsity tennis coach Eugene Sul. “Devan's exploits as a volleyball player were almost ‘legendary’ as tennis players from Oneida, Chittenango, etc. recognized him instantly at our matches.”
J-DHS physical education teacher and volleyball coach Jason Hays thinks Ramachandran is a stellar athlete. “He is willing to work hard and listen to coaching. He is then able to apply what he has been told into a game situation. He’s tall and has long arms which is very helpful as well.”
This season, thanks to those long arms, Ramachandran was a part of the top doubles team, along with junior and co-captain Reed Tso. The pair cruised through the regular season and continues to advance through the playoffs. Not only does Ramachandran have the respect of his teammates, he also has the respect of his coach.
“His height, wingspan, athleticism, aggressiveness, and desire to win are all desirable characteristics for a good high school tennis player,” says Mr. Sul.
Ramachandran, however, is not just a key player. He was elected captain on both the volleyball and tennis teams as a senior this year.
“Devan has a unique ability to rally his teammates in a positive manner,” says Mr. Hays. “The game of volleyball is such a team game. Devan knew that he needed everyone on the team for him to be successful as a player.”
“(Devan) is well respected by his peers on and off the team,” says Mr. Sul. “(He has the) willingness to take charge and take responsibility. (He is) very affable, approachable, friendly; though very intense when he needs to be.”
You don’t become the leader of a team, however, by laying back and keeping to yourself. “He gets to the ball in every sport,” says J-DHS senior Cam Stone. “And he always brings the trash talk, too.”
Though he is a spectacle on the tennis court, Ramachandran may be even more famous for his work on the volleyball court. “Every team has a big man,” says Dave Urciuoli, a J-DHS senior and volleyball teammate, “our big man is just athletic and makes amazing plays.”
Even though the team may not have a great reputation, losing more games then they won last season, the squad, behind Ramachandran, took a step in the right direction.
“Although the record hasn’t shown it, I think the players in my grade have really popularized the sport and the numbers of guys trying out has really increased,” says Ramachandran. “They have some great freshmen and 10th graders and I’m sure they will a very good team in the future.”
Last season the team won only one game in a tough league full of teams like Living Word Academy, who is famous for their volleyball. The season was not a complete failure, though. Their only win came over Oneida, who J-D lost to in another tight contest by only one game. The Rams also gave other teams close games when the lost to Chittenango and Mount Markkham, proving that the team had the potential to rack up four or five wins. Even though Ramachandran was on a struggling squad, his talents shined through as he was elected to the First Team All Star list for his league, which is quite an accomplishment. “It was awesome to receive the appreciation after a long season,” says Ramachandran.”
All of Ramachandran’s work has paid off in the classroom as he is a star student. Making high honor roll or honor roll every quarter of his high school career, Ramachandran also takes three Advanced Placement courses: AP European History, AP Statistics, and AP Spanish. These rigorous classes and heavy workload have turned Ramachandran into a different kind of student, a student that stands out from others because of the load he has to balance while still participating in sports.
“Honestly, good friends and good teachers, kids like (J-DHS seniors) David Urciuoli and Natalie Mannion really made sure I was on my game,” Ramachandran says. “The teachers also do a great job of holding your attention and keeping you on track.”
Ramachandran is a kid that isn’t afraid to stick out of the crowd. Maybe this is a quality he learned from being well over six-feet tall, or maybe these qualities come from the great J-D sports programs he represents. Brandon Triche is always affiliated with J-D basketball. Jake Bratek is always affiliated with J-D lacrosse. Kenny Schunk is always affiliated with J-D football. Devan Ramachandran will always be the leader of the misfits, teaching kids that the glory can come without the fame.