Ever since it won the Public School Athletic League gymnastics championship in 2011, the John F. Kennedy Campus Knights boys squad have been in search of another piece of championship hardware.
But seven straight seasons came and went without another trophy being held aloft.
So in a year where championship aspirations were at a minimum, the Knights shocked many by knocking off Stuyvesant and LaGuardia in the city title match back in February. And perhaps no one was more responsible for that unexpected feat than Jermaine DaCosta.
One year after capturing the city individual title with his work on the pommel horse, DaCosta not only replicated that feat again this season, but also led Kennedy to its first team title in nearly a decade. Count DaCosta among those surprised at Kennedy’s magical season.
“Honestly, it was surreal because for two or three years we’d lose the championship by tenths of points,” DaCosta said. “We were so close, but so far at the same time. Then this past year we were able to accomplish our goal as a team and it was really indescribable. It really was.”
With his Kennedy days now behind him, DaCosta is spending a lot of his summer vacation still working on his gymnastic routines as he prepares to take part in the Big Apple Games, which started July 15 at both Truman High School in the Bronx and Long Island City High School.
“It’s going pretty great,” DaCosta said. “I’ve been working on some new skills.”
Once his competition in the Big Apple Games is complete — and after a much-anticipated trip to the Bahamas for some richly deserved downtime — DaCosta will pack for his trip south to begin his freshman year at the University of Virginia.
“I’m super excited to be going there,” DaCosta said. “I’ll have a little more freedom and be a little more independent. I’m going to learn a lot of new things, face new challenges, and meet some new friends. The whole shabang. I can’t wait.”
One thing DaCosta won’t be doing, at least temporarily, is competing in gymnastics, as he looks to ease his transition into college life.
“I want to get acclimated with my new environment and my academics,” DaCosta said. “But then my plan is to pick it back up in my sophomore year.”
But being away from the sport he loves, even as he soaks in all his new college home can offer, will present a difficult challenge.
“I’m definitely going to miss it,” DaCosta said. “I know I’m going to have days that will be harder than others, but I think overall I’ll be fine.”
DaCosta, who was second in his class academically at Kennedy, according to Knights gymnastics coach Robert Colon, is ready to jump headfirst into Virginia’s rigorous academic pool.
“I’m looking to major in both finance and information technology,” DaCosta said. “I would like to be an entrepreneur after college, believe it or not. I’d really like to create my own business.”
One of DaCosta’s personal favorite memories from Kennedy will be how he defended his PSAL individual pommel horse title after winning it for the first time in his junior year.
“Winning the individual championship on the pommel horse again was pretty great because I had also won it the year before and my concern was to try and keep that streak going,” DaCosta said. “Luckily I was able to do that.”
But DaCosta, a senior captain on the Knights’ gymnastics squad, is ever the team player, and counted the Knights’ long-awaited PSAL team city championship as his greatest achievement.
“I really have a lot of great memories from Kennedy, so it’s really hard to choose the best one,” DaCosta said. “But I guess I’d have to say winning the championship was the top one. The team championship for sure, not my individual one.”
DaCosta will leave the Bronx for Charlottesville on Aug. 23, giving him ample time to officially put his Kennedy days in the rearview mirror.
“I’m definitely going to miss Kennedy because it’s been such a big part of my routine for so long,” DaCosta said. “Creating a whole new routine at Virginia is going to be a little weird.”
But not weird enough that Aug. 23 can’t show up on his calendar soon enough.
“I’m super excited. I can’t wait,” DaCosta said. “It’s going to be a whole new chapter in a whole different state.”