As a youngster, Cheshire Academy student Devan Fernando developed a love for athletics. He feels that he benefited physically and socially from experimenting in activities like basketball, soccer, swimming, running, and football.
“I’m a competitive person, so I’ve loved sports,” reflected Fernando. “I liked making friends (growing up), and competing in sports challenged me.”
Before starting his senior year at CA, he jumped at the opportunity to share his passion through a different lens. Last summer, Fernando wrote his first book, titled “Stadiums to Streets: An Anthropologic Perspective on the Origins, History, & Impact of Sports.”
The book details the cultural, economic, political, and ideological role of sports in historic and contemporary societies.
“It is something that is around us. I wanted to highlight the impact that sports have,” explained Fernando. “People are always around sports, but they don’t always see the impact it can have on communities.”
He decided to write the book after signing up for a summer course in anthropology.
“I got interested in the field of anthropology because I could see how it is connected to sports and how it impacts our daily lives,” explained Fernando.
As he took more classes, Fernando wanted to share what he was learning.
“My professor motivated me to write that book,” reflected Fernando.
In seeing athletes speaking out on different issues, Fernando sought to explore what kind of effect they have on society.
“It was something that really interested me. I think that young people are impacted by sports,” explained Fernando.
He estimated that it took up his whole summer to write the book. Fernando researched by looking at journals and checking with sources like ESPN.
He felt that the writing process came pretty easy for him.
“I wasn’t being graded on it (the book), so I think I had a lot of creativity and freedom,” said Fernando, who worked seven hours a day for five days a week.
An interesting fact he discovered was that the earliest mention of sports came in cave paintings.
“They dated (back) to early civilizations. Because humans couldn’t keep track of time, they engaged in sports,” stated Fernando.
He also liked writing about the political side of the Greek Olympics and the impact of sports during Apartheid in South Africa.
“It was good to see how sports impacted these different societies,” recalled Fernando.
For the last two chapters, he focuses on the current state of sports.
When the book was finished, he chose Amazon’s self-publishing service to help him share his work. His book was released on Sept. 11 of last year.
“I designed the cover and the table of contents,” said Fernando. “I had written it (the copy) on Microsoft Word and they (publishing service) turned the .pdf into a book.”
The project was time consuming, but Fernando benefited from learning about writing, researching, Photo shop, and designing.
“It (the experience) taught me about picking sources and making sure that I had enough material,” added Fernando, who spent extra time making sure that he cited his sources.
Fernando has decided to donate book proceeds to the Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries, a nonprofit organization. So far, he has collected $600.
Fernando also raises funds through his own nonprofit called Play-On.
Last year, he teamed with CA classmates Santino Gambardella and Anthony Tirado to collect sports equipment for GWIM. The fundraiser started in mid-March and ran into May.
“It was definitely really good. I got so much support from the community,” recalled Fernando.
In speaking with the founder of GWIM, Fernando heard that the CA donations were used at a pre-summer camp for kids last year.
“Seeing the impact that my equipment had meant a lot to me,” said Fernando. “It was good to see how much work they are doing for the community.”
Like with his sports donations, Fernando has been pleased with the response to his book. In mid-December of last year, he had a book signing during a morning meeting at CA.
“A lot of my friends, family, and teachers have expressed how proud they are of me for writing the book,” stated Fernando.
On a personal level, Fernando has enjoyed his athletic experience at CA. In the last four years, he has competed in football, basketball, and track and field.
Fernando names football as his favorite.
“It is the sport that has challenged me the most,” reflected Fernando. “There are so many unpredictable things (in the game) and that is exciting.”
In his final season last fall, the Cats went 3-6 under Daniel Mehleisen, who shifted from assistant to head coach in 2022.
“I think he did a great job. He was a great leader and someone who everyone respected,” said Fernando. “Even though we didn’t get as many wins as we wanted, it (the season) was an enjoyable experience.”
At the fall sports banquet, Fernando was awarded Most Improved by his football team.
“It was really nice,” recalled Fernando. “As a four-year player, it was nice to see that the coaches and teammates thought of me. It meant a lot.”
In and out of sports at CA, he has enjoyed interacting with students from around the world.
“It is definitely something that is important to me,” stated Fernando. “I get to see the different customs they (my classmates) have. I enjoy hearing what their life is like and how they feel about going to school in the U.S.”
Fernando hasn’t made his college decision yet, but hopes to finalize his plans after hearing back from more schools in early February.
He is unsure about a major right now, but added that he would definitely be open to writing another book. Since he interviewed a lot of international students for his first project, Fernando would be interested in traveling abroad.
“I think it would be cool to study sports in another culture,” stated Fernando.