Menu

News & Events

Pingry News & Events

More News

Pingry

Athletes

Ami Gianchandani

Class of 2018
Ami Gianchandani ’18 was five when she received her first set of golf clubs. By eight, her first year playing in tournaments through U.S. Kids Golf, she qualified for the regional, national, and world championships. She was also named U.S. Kids Golf “Player of the Year” for four consecutive years, 2009 to 2012. Not a bad start to what would become a highly successful career as a junior player. Along with Mary Moan Swanson ’93—former Princeton player and head golf coach at Yale, now head coach of the women’s team at Bradley University—Ami is one of Big Blue’s most accomplished female golfers.

In the spring of 2015, as a freshman, she finished second in the Tournament of Champions, a highly competitive contest in which the best-of-the-best across the state face off. In the spring of 2016, with her lowest score ever (66), she won the competitive Skyland Conference Championship, defeating a local competitor who had bested her the year before at the same tournament, and with whom she had been in friendly competition since the age of eight. Her freshman and sophomore years she was named to the all-state golf teams. She also happens to play squash, and has been a member of Big Blue’s varsity team since her freshman year.

Outside of Pingry, Ami competes on the American Junior Golf Association's tour, the highest level junior tour for ages 12-18. She also competes in USGA’s Girls’ U.S. Junior Championship series, the largest series of tournaments for girls under 18. But, in the eyes of this 16-year-old, success outside of Pingry doesn’t diminish the importance of being a part of her school team.

In 20 years, when she looks back on her athletics career at Pingry, what will she say about it? “They were some of my best years ever,” she answers, without hesitation. “Being part of a community that values athletics and academics, where you get to be a student and a team member, what could be better?”

Miles LeAndre

Class of 2017
At the encouragement of Coach Corvino and Coach Tremontana, Miles had been working hard—really hard—in order to make the varsity lineup on Big Blue’s baseball team. Finally, after two years, he did it. “I was in the dugout on opening day and I saw my name on the lineup card: ‘Miles LeAndre, batting fourth, playing center field.’ It felt awesome,” he recalls.

He credits his coaches—and his father, who moved to the United States from Haiti when he was 4, and went on to captain his high school baseball team—for instilling in him the importance of a strong work ethic. His junior year, the first year he made the varsity team, he earned All-Conference honors. It also happened to be his strongest year academically. He doesn’t think it was a coincidence. “When something doesn’t work out, you have to work hard to make it work out,” he says.

Miles, who plans to attend Bucknell University, arrived at Pingry in Grade 5, and began playing Big Blue baseball as a seventh grader. Over the years, he has played baseball on many elite travel teams to hone his skills, all to be at his best for Big Blue. His pride at being a Pingry athlete, and his devotion to the team, are readily apparent.

He remembers one moment in particular, his junior year, when the team faced one of the toughest competitors in the state, Morristown Beard, in their annual Headmaster’s Trophy game. It was the best team they would face all season. Early in the first inning, one of their batters hit a single; Miles, ready in left field, caught the ball and threw to first. Out. The team would go on to a dramatic, 6-2 win. After the game, captain Bryce Weisholz ’16 congratulated Miles, telling him he had set the tone from the very beginning.

“The thing that excites me most about playing baseball for Pingry is the camaraderie with my teammates. These are people I might not usually be connected with off the field, but when we’re on the field together, we’re all one team, with one common goal to win and have fun and make each other proud.”

Kelsey Ransom

Class of 2020
For point guard Kelsey Ransom ’20, who started Pingry in Grade 6, playing Big Blue varsity basketball was a given. Her two older sisters play—Cory, Class of 2015, was a four-year varsity player for Pingry—her mother played throughout high school, and her father competed in college. She was born into a basketball family, she says.

In third grade, she started playing for the Catholic Youth League. Three years later, she joined an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team, where she met her future Pingry teammate, Megan Horn ’18. By Grade 7, she was on Pingry’s Middle School team. Her freshman year, she took her sister’s old number—32—when she made the varsity team.

A year-round basketball player, Kelsey logs long hours during Big Blue’s winter season. After school, she has practice until 5:30, and then transitions—conveniently, right on campus—to her AAU practice, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. In the spring, she manages to find time to jump and sprint for Pingry’s track & field team (she holds several Middle School track records (she holds school records in the long jump, the 200 meters, and the 400 meters).

But sports aren’t Kelsey’s only passion. Psychology, science, and drama—especially drama—excite her. Her basketball schedule doesn’t allow her to participate in school plays and musicals, so instead, she takes the drama classes offered at Pingry. “I love taking on other characters, finding—and faking—that inner emotion. Drama is a lot like basketball, you have to be quick on your feet, adjust, and improvise. I love that.”

Kelsey has her sights set on playing Division I basketball in college, but no matter her path, for now, she’s happy to be a student, and an athlete, at Pingry. “I take a lot of pride in attending a school that’s so diverse in terms of what it emphasizes,” she says.

Henry Wood

Class of 2021
A unit on cross-country running in his sixth-grade P.E. class got Henry Wood ’21 hooked. He joined the Middle School team in seventh grade, the first year competitive teams are offered to Middle Schoolers. In his very first meet, against Far Hills Country Day School, he won. “I surprised myself a little bit that first meet,” he remembers. “I wasn’t expecting to place that high, but I was pretty happy.”

Come spring track season, he won every 800- and 1600-meter event he raced. A year later, as an eighth grader, he avenged his runner-up status in both meets the year before by winning the competitive Ed Scott Invitational—on Pingry’s home course—and Gill St. Bernard’s Great Pumpkin Run.

Henry’s love of the sport—and talent—is a family affair. His older brother, Stewart ’14, who captained Big Blue’s cross-country team his senior year, competed for Dartmouth College for a year (an injury forced an early end to his running career). His older sister, Anna ’18, also a standout runner at Pingry, recently broke the indoor track school record in the 3200-meter run. A lover of math, who also plays ice hockey in the winter (“I like to go fast!” he says), Henry embraces the work ethic and persistence that running require. “Like schoolwork,” he says, “you get out of running what you put into it.”

Charlotte Curnin

Class of 2017
In mid-October of her junior year, Charlotte Curnin ’17 was a frazzled spectator, watching the girls’ varsity soccer team fall in a crushing, 7-0 loss to a nearby school. The team’s goalie, Libby Parsons ’16, also Charlotte’s good friend from the basketball team, was out with an injury, and the team was feeling her absence. Charlotte hadn’t played soccer since her days as a Middle School goalie, but the natural athlete and competitor in her felt compelled to help out if she could. After taking a few test shots from a team member and feeling that she was decent enough, she bravely approached Coach Andrew Egginton with her proposal: take Libby’s place for as along as a goalie was needed. “He looked me up and down and declared, ‘Libby 2.0. You’re both tall, you both play basketball. See you at practice tomorrow!’”

The gesture, which suddenly committed the basketball captain and lacrosse player to a third, nearly full season of sport, exemplifies the tenacity and spirit she feels as a Big Blue athlete. And she loves everything about the role—running out onto the lush green of Miller A. Bugliari World Cup Soccer Field, shooting hoops in the drudgery of winter with a tight-knit group of friends, the bus rides back from lacrosse games, which, even if they followed a loss, still somehow, after some song and banter, felt like wins.

“Together” is the word she would choose to sum up her athletic memories at Pingry. “At the end of the day, we all come out after a hard day of school and we’re with each other. Some days we just want to go home, but we gather our teams, a small nerdy school often facing much larger opponents,” she says. “We have to win together or we’re not going to win.”

Jack Baulig

Class of 2019

It was an away game with Hillside High School, a football powerhouse that had overcome Big Blue in the past. But that early-October afternoon, as the team warmed up on the field, things felt different, special even, said Jack Baulig ’19. Assistant football coach (also Assistant Headmaster) Mr. Jon Leef pulled Jack aside.




“’This is an existential game,’ he said to me. ‘You’re a very good freshman, you know your place on the team, but it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from; you play like you play and good things will happen,’” recalls Jack. “I will never forget his words. We lost that game, but our defense, which I’m proud to be a part of, held Hillside to 18 points, one of their lowest scoring games all season.”

What word would this three-sport athlete use to sum up Pingry athletics? Pride. It’s not only the school chant, he says, it speaks to the greater character of the school, and the coaches’ commitment to—and expectation of—the players.


Jessica Li

Class of 2018
For Jessica Li, a standout moment as a Pingry student athlete—one she will remember 20 years from now—wasn’t a shining one, she will admit.

She was down in a big tennis tournament, playing poorly against a girl she should have easily upset. She lost badly, and was distraught. “I was embarrassed, but Coach Diaz pulled me over and helped me to regroup. He arranged a time for us to review all my previous matches from the season to figure out what I was doing right and where I could improve. He and Coach Weber were so comforting and supportive throughout the season. Ultimately, I learned from that experience not to stress out so much, to stay positive. On or outside the tennis court, you just can’t let yourself get down.” She adds, after reflecting for a moment: “If a teammate of mine gets sad like I did, I hope I can comfort her the same way my coaches did.”

Indeed, the team community is what Jessica cites as most valuable to her as a Big Blue athlete. A calligrapher and aspiring rock climber, tennis player and sabre fencer, she is drawn to pursuits that require hand-eye coordination and fast reflexes. But far more than honing these skills under the guidance of expert coaches, she says, it’s the close-knit group of friends, her teammates, who have given her the most. When asked to capture Pingry athletics in a short phrase, she replies, thoughtfully, “A sense of belonging.”

Natalia Ramirez

Class of 2019
State tournament semifinals her freshman year: Natalia Ramirez ’19 scored the first goal, giving Big Blue an early lead over their opponent, but the teams jockeyed back and forth for points, endlessly, it seemed, until they were forced into overtime. Her teammate, Maddie Temares ’16, played her a ball, and she floated it into the net, securing the win. Beset by a sudden asthma attack, however, she didn’t even know she had scored! Mistaking her fear for a euphoric victory stance, her teammates swarmed her with exuberant embraces. Thankfully, her inhaler was nearby, and came to a quick rescue. All in all, it was a Pingry memory Natalia Ramirez ’19 won’t soon forget.

Reticent and petite, Natalia says playing for Big Blue teams allows her to show a different side of herself. “I’m super focused in school and on the playing field, but it’s a different ‘me’, in a way, on the field,” she said. “Sometimes I can hear the opponents’ coaches yell from the sidelines, ‘Number 20 has nothing on you; she’s short!’ Then I score and prove them wrong. It’s such a great feeling.”

Soccer is her passion. When Paris Saint-Germain headquartered itself at Pingry for a portion of its preseason training, she was front and center, watching one of her favorite professional teams intently, studying their technique. Despite her involvement in a serious club team outside of school—International GFA— including an invited stint to play at the U.S. Soccer Training Center at Princeton University and the national training camp in Phoenix, she really can’t imagine not playing for Pingry. “I’m really proud to be a part of the team.”