All athletes have a coach, but the female athletes at Western High School have a coach and a personal publicist. Her name is Breezy Bishop, and as she describes her role, “I market every student to the best colleges in the country!” Sales objective: an athletic scholarship, an academic scholarship, or both for each and every student.
Breezy Bishop is the women’s basketball coach at Western, the oldest female public high school in America, and she is as unique as Western itself. Every fall she writes, raises the funds for, and publishes a 20-page booklet she calls “Western High School Doves.” It is 20 pages of illustrated hyperbole, unapologetic hard sell, for her players and Western. “Doves fills a special need that women athletes have but the men don’t. The media sell the males. The women need to be showcased on their own, and that is where Doves comes in.”
Every fall the Doves fly into the athletic coach’s office of every college in the country — “from Adelphi to Youngstown State,” she says, “including the Naval Academy and West Point and the Ivies. Every college hears about my Doves.”
What they hear is that Western prepares its students to do well in college (average college placement is 85 percent for the last 20 years and over 90 percent for the last five); pictures of administrators and her “special people” who are helpful to the program; and most importantly, her players — fresh men, sophomores, juniors and seniors. “These kids are not just good athletes, they’re good kids — they’ve learned to work hard and study hard. I have never, in 17 years, had one of my girls not score above the 700 SAT — the threshold for eligibility.”
As for results, Ms. Bishop says, “Measure by how many of my girls get athletic scholarships or academic scholarships or both. With my Doves, year after year, better than nine out of every ten who apply for these scholarships get them, at one college or another — 63 players out of 64 over 17 years! That has to be one of the best records of any high school anywhere in the country.”
The Abell Foundation salutes Breezy Bishop, the leader of the flock of Western High School’s high-flying Doves.