St. Ed’s academic star earns salute for sporting efforts

Anand Chundi was the Salutatorian of St. Ed’s Class of 2019, something hardly unexpected coming from a student with the reputation of brilliance across the board in every single classroom subject. You might say he was just channeling the example set by his brother Kishore, a 2016 St. Ed’s graduate currently studying at Yale.

Academics was not the only interest the brothers shared. Despite being three years apart, Anand was able to call his brother a teammate on the Pirates’ basketball court and baseball diamond.

“I started playing basketball way back in the second or third grade,” Chundi recalled. “And I actually started playing baseball before that. I was playing T-ball when I was 4 or 5 years old. I started playing baseball here at school in seventh grade. I was on the varsity at that point because we didn’t have a middle school team.

“I played with my brother and that was a lot of fun, but he could also be very hard on me when I didn’t make the right play. It was always nice to have him there to keep an eye on me.”

Chundi finished his high school sports career as the type of leader his brother could be proud of. This year he was credited with controlling the tempo of the game from behind the plate for an improving baseball team while hitting a respectable .273 and, oddly, leading the team in stolen bases, something a catcher is not supposed to do.

“Obviously this year I was expected to be a role model for the younger kids,” Chundi said as the only senior on the 2019 11-8 baseball team. “It was tough at times and we had some growing pains. With so many young kids, the team should improve a lot and have a bright future. I really looked forward to playing with these guys every day.”

Anand was on the middle school basketball team from seventh grade until he finally made the jump to the varsity full time as a sophomore. His final high school season on the hardcourt is revealing for what he contributed to help a struggling team (6-17) in any way he could.

“This year we didn’t have quite the record that we would have liked,” was Chundi’s understated assessment. “But we managed to have a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the time I spent with Coach (Greg) Zugrave, Coach (Bill) Keating and all of my teammates. We built a tremendous amount of camaraderie through the season.

“I was a decent shooter, rebounder, and I liked to drive to the basket and find open people. This year the coaches expected me to handle the ball a lot more because of all the young guys we had. I was not much of ball handler in the past, and I found it difficult at times especially against teams that liked to press.

“But I saw it as a challenge and I had to figure it out. It was something I knew I could do if I put my mind to it. I think it ended up OK.”

Bringing that kind of attitude to school every day certainly paid widespread dividends. It was starkly evidenced through his unfamiliar role as a senior point guard when he led the team in rebounds and steals, and was second in points and assists.

Chundi will attend the University of Florida, telling us that was his No. 1 option all along. It’s close to home and has all of the essentials necessary to take him where he wants to go.

“My future plans after college right now are to be a dentist or doctor. The dental and medical schools at UF are extremely good. Going there as an undergraduate will help me get exposure to research opportunities in those areas. At the Honors College, a subset of the larger university, I will also have greater access to the professors.

“My interests have always been primarily math and science. I would also like to look into environmental engineering because, living here, we’ve seen the degradation of the lagoon and how it has deteriorated over the years. Foreign languages have always been one of my strengths, and Spanish is one class that I’ve enjoyed over the years.”

Even with so many diverse options to explore, it’s worthwhile noting that sports will continue to be something more meaningful than just a sideshow to demonstrable academic excellence.

“I will look into club opportunities to play basketball and baseball, but more than that I have quite a bit of joy writing about sports. I have a sports blog and contribute to a YouTube channel. I’m a huge Gators fan and I will comment on the games I attend,” he said.

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