Racing, Trades, and Rankings Give HPHS Math a Sporting Chance

Analytics course draws plenty of fans

Highland Park High School has a Sports Analytics waitlist in the Moody Advanced Professional Studies program – not for any game, but for a spot in the class.

The waitlist when it started could have filled three classes of 32 students, said Dr. Geoffrey Orsak, the Moody Innovation Institute executive director.

Sports Analytics, which uses statistical and data analytics skills to study questions and challenges from sports, was one of two new MAPS classes Highland Park ISD trustees approved last December for the 2023-2024 school year. The other was modern media.

With the crowds at Scots games at Highlander Stadium and professional teams like the Rangers’ recent World Series win drawing thousands to their victory parade in Arlington, it may not come as a surprise that the class would be popular. It’s not all for fun, though. Sports analytics is also a math credit. 

Ava Marie Price, a senior in the class, plays softball and says she’s considering going into sports management. 

William Haney, a senior who’s played football, said he hopes to use the analytical skills developed in his future as an aspiring investment banker.

“I am infatuated with analytics and how it can affect the real world, and I also want to be an investment banker,” Haney said. 

Praneel Cherukuri, a senior who runs cross country, said he’s always been interested in sports and hopes to use some of the skills developed in the class to go into aerospace engineering.

One of the favorite class projects involved acting as NFL team managers. Students determined the best trade for their team and presented their decision and reasoning. 

“You had to look and find what your team needed work on, what players were good to trade with,” Price said. “It was a difficult project for me personally, but I really enjoyed it.”

Another project involved ranking the top 10 sports towns in the country by coming up with an equation to rank the cities based on factors like playoff appearances and championship wins of local teams.

“It’s always cool to see how … you get one data set, and people look at it in different ways,” Cherukuri said.

“Having to present football data to a room full of football players, I’ve definitely gained a lot more confidence in my presenting skills and talking to people,” Price added. 

Colin Stringer, who teaches the class, is a Highland Park alumnus, football coach, and math teacher.

“The kids are really excited about it,” he said. “It’s really cool seeing them so passionate about class, which doesn’t happen in my other math classes.”

Formula 1 visit revs up learning

Exercising analytical math skills by studying auto racing – that’s fun.

Having a U.S. Formula 1 team make an educational “pit stop” on campus – that’s even better.

“I’ve always been fascinated with cars, and just seeing like a multimillion-dollar car just sitting there was pretty cool,” Highland Park High School senior Praneel Cherukuri said.

In October, the Moneygram Haas F1 team made an educational “pit stop” at Highland Park High School.

Moneygram Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner, MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes with chief marketing officer Greg Hall, and drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg brought the F1 car to campus ahead of the U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix Oct. 20-22 in Austin.

Moody Advanced Professional Studies (MAPS) program experience on Oct. 18 included a conversation moderated by Nicole Briscoe of ESPN.

Hall’s son, Ellery, studies brain science and health in the MAPS program. 

“We have designed and raced our own (model) F1 cars, explored the corporate benefits of sponsoring an F1 team, delved into the brains of F1 race drivers, learned about F1 efforts to be carbon neutral within a decade, and discussed the challenges in effectively marketing an F1 team across the globe,” Ellery said. “The breadth of our learning has been simply incredible.”

Ava Marie Price, a senior taking Sports Analytics, also considered the F1 visit a family affair. 

“My mom is from Indianapolis,” Price said. “We went and saw the Indy 500 every year. We’ve always been a racing family.”

Price’s mom came to school that day, too. “She was so into it.” 

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, former deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order.

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