James Gales, Brooklyn Technical High School’s senior running back/defensive end, is the epitome of the student-athlete.
Not only was he one of the Public School Athletic League’s most explosive players on the field, but he’s also an exceptional student. This combination earned Gales the league’s Wingate Award, given to the top senior in each sport.
“He sets the example athletically and academically. He is one of the hardest working people in the room in both aspects,” said Brooklyn Tech coach Kyle McKenna. “You can point to him and say ‘that’s what you should be emulating.’ ”
Gales took seriously his responsibilities to show others the way. He said members of the school’s junior varsity team, and even people he didn’t know, would tell him they looked up to him for what he has accomplished. And students will have even more to aspire to now that Gales is headed to Princeton University with a spot on its football team.
“I don’t want to be that kid who is cutting class,” Gales said. “I don’t want to be that kid that’s not keeping his grades up.”
Gales’s numbers say it all. He made the varsity team three years, and last season helped the Engineers to a 7–3 record. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound running back rushed for 1,345 yards and a league-leading 18 touchdowns on 178 carries. He also caught a touchdown, made an interception and recovered a fumble.
“When you put the ball in his hands good things happen,” McKenna said. “We designed whole packages on being able to get the ball to him.”
Not that things always came easy so to Gales. He said freshman year at the demanding school was his toughest academically, but his time-management skills improved quickly, and he finished senior year with a 92 grade point average and a 1700 out of 2400 on his SATs.
“It went from very hard to hard,” Gales joked.
He was also motivated by the chance to attend school in the Ivy League. The opportunity came in the summer of his junior year after attending Princeton Camp. He wasn’t going to let it slip away.
“If I study for these extra 20 minutes, if I get five more points on this test, I’m going to be in the Ivy League,” Gales said. “It really pushed me.”
Gales was a member of an exemplary senior class at Brooklyn Tech. It produced three Division-I players and helped bring the program to an elite level in the city.
Gales is sorry to leave, but glad to leave a lasting legacy behind.
“I want to set an example for young kids,” Gales said. “So when it’s their turn, they can get a Wingate Award.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk