Meet Our 2018 - 2019 Featured Student-Athletes
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Bryce Faulstich bleeds crimson. As the community heard in his recent chapel talk – it is a Salisbury tradition that the School President give the first student talk of the year – Faulstich is an unabashed fan of Salisbury School. “Coming here,” he asserted, “is the best decision I have ever made.” Hand-in-hand with that conviction is Faulstich’s firm belief that Salisbury deserves the very best that he can offer in service to the School.
And, since entering Salisbury as a third former in the fall of 2015, Faulstich has given much: to our community, to our classrooms, and to our athletic program.
Long before running for School President last spring, Faulstich had served on the Student Council as Class Representative in his third, fourth, and fifth form years. As a fourth former, he applied for and was named a Peer Leader. This year, he serves as a Prefect in Payson. Although the program was short-lived, Faulstich participated in the Collaborative Leadership Initiative last year with students from Miss Hall’s School. He is once again representing the School as a member of the Key Society, his fourth year giving tours for the Admissions Office to visiting families.
Long before the #MeToo movement – and, in fact, even before coming to Salisbury – Faulstich had also become involved with the One Love Foundation, an organization dedicated to stopping relationship abuse and promoting healthy relationships. Indeed, One Love may be the community work that Faulstich feels most passionate about. “When I was a student in Bronxville,” he explains, “One Love was a very important program in my school and in my town. The girls’ lacrosse coach had known Yardley” – One Love was founded in 2010 to honor the life and memory of Yardley Love, a victim of an abusive relationship – “and the town holds big fundraisers every year. In fact,” Faulstich adds, “the headquarters for the organization are located in Bronxville.” One Love has a chapter here at Salisbury, and Faulstich has been actively involved with its mission since he arrived on the Hilltop.
If you have read this far, you’ve probably started to wonder when you would get to the “student-athlete” part. You’re almost there. First, though, a final word from Faulstich on the subject of life at Salisbury outside the classroom and off the athletic stage: “My number-one concern as a member of this community,” an earnest Faulstich states, “is that some students focus too narrowly on one area of school life and don’t take advantage of all the other things Salisbury has to offer or don’t share their personal abilities beyond one, narrow area.” Scholars and athletes alike, take note; Faulstich would have you heed his words and make sure you are making the most of your experience here, not defining yourself solely by one area of specialization.
Not that Faulstich himself has always lived by those words. When he started at Salisbury, he was all about the athletics. As a third former, he reported early for pre-season football. His ultimate goal: to quarterback the University of Michigan Wolverines. Family vacations to his grandparents’ home near Lake Michigan had instilled a love of the Mitten State early on. “It’s been my ‘dream school’ forever,” Faulstich enthuses. “The walls of my room at home used to be plastered with Michigan football posters.”
So Faulstich is applying Early Decision to…Wake Forest. Certainly, his academic credentials are in order. After “only” making Honors in his first two trimesters at Salisbury, he has strung together seven consecutive trimesters of High Honors, with a slew of honors-level and AP courses on his transcript. He anticipates parlaying his love of sports into a career in sports marketing and likes the smaller scale of Wake Forest, where “teachers know students’ names, and there is a combination of big-school resources and small-school academic attention.” Here at Salisbury, Faulstich has benefited from the attentions he has received from the Rudd Learning Center, where Adam Bunce and Brent Barbato (both of whom are also members of the varsity football coaching staff) have been “incredibly, incredibly helpful.” Yes, he will still apply to Michigan, but his ambitious football goal has receded since finding himself a back-up quarterback throughout his middle school and Salisbury careers. Mid-season last fall, however, Faulstich finally made his first start at quarterback, and last spring head coach Chris Phelps told him he would be the starter this year.
But Faulstich started last season as the back-up. “Jason was the better q.b.,” Faulstich acknowledges of starter Jason Goldstein. “He had a stronger arm and was much better at reads: if I couldn’t throw to my primary receiver, that was it. I didn’t know where to look to find the secondary receivers. When Jason was injured, and I replaced him, if my first option was covered, I just ran it. Coach Phelps calls our plays, and in my first game last year, against Kent, I didn’t know all the plays, so I would just drop back, as though I were going to pass, and then pull the ball in and run. I had Kent totally confused. On my first series, I pulled off a 25-yard run on a 3rd-and-15 play. Of course, the fact that Kent had not seen any film of me was a further advantage. I couldn’t get away with that so easily once other teams had the chance to prepare.”
Despite Faulstich’s knuckling down to a serious study of the position and the playbook, the team was beset with injuries and what Faulstich terms a “lack of leadership” among too many of the senior members of the team, which finished the season with an uncharacteristic 1-7 record, easily the nadir of the Phelps era. “We had a guy like Zach Banks,” Faulstich notes, “who was an amazing leader, all football, all-out, every game, every practice. But we didn’t have the kind of core of sixth-formers who took the team to the New England Prep Championship Game my third-form year. Frankly,” he states with utter candor, “last season was an embarrassment. This year’s team is hungry. The whole team understands what last season meant, and no one wants a repeat of that. This year’s PGs are buying in to the ‘community concept’ and want to see the team do well, not just burnish their personal stats to get into a Division I college.”
Three years ago, as a third former, Faulstich suited up for that championship game and watched his teammates’ effort to fight back against Choate-Rosemary Hall in the second half from a first-half deficit that ultimately proved just too much to overcome. The Wild Boars hoisted the Super Bowl Trophy at game’s end. Still, it had been a dominant season for the Knights, and Faulstich had every reason to believe that Salisbury would continue to field teams geared for the fast-track into the post-season – and that he would play an increasingly important role for those teams.
By his fifth-form year, however, the Salisbury Express had been derailed by injuries and bad luck. The Division I recruit who had been slated to start at quarterback decided to forego a PG year and entered Louisville instead. The star running back missed the entire season when he hurt himself on the sideline warming up to try out for place-kicker after the starting kicker had been sidelined. As their record reflects, the 2017 team never got on track.
Faulstich’s competitive fire was fueled when he learned last spring that Phelps was looking at PGs to come in and quarterback this year’s team. “I want to be on the field,” states Faulstich tersely, “and felt I had shown I could run our offense.” But he kept those feelings to himself, publicly telling his teammates that a recruit would be best for the team. “Privately,” Faulstich confides, “I did not feel that way at all.”
Come May, though, Phelps informed Faulstich that the q.b. spot was his. Before the school year ended, he and Phelps had a half-dozen meetings to discuss the season ahead and start getting ready. On his own after the school year ended, Faulstich re-watched all of the game film from the 2017 season to identify mistakes and learn from them. He worked out several times a week with his younger brother, a student at Brunswick, focusing on building arm strength and getting more distance on his throws. Over the summer, Faulstich came to the Hilltop for a day to meet with his coach. “We spent two hours in the Global Classroom [in Phinny Library], watching film, talking about reading defenses,” Faulstich explains. “In the afternoon, Dawson [Wynne] met us down on the field,” he continues, “and we spent another hour running pass routes.” The results of Faulstich’s backyard regimen were readily apparent. “Dawson was pulling down throws of fifty-plus yards,” Faulstich remarks. “My longest throw in my junior season was maybe forty yards, tops.”
While talented running back Rahsul Faison has accounted for 48 of the 74 points the Knights have accumulated over their first two games this fall – a loss to Taft, a dominating win over Andover – Faulstich has thrown for over 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while completing better than 60% of his passes. Opposing defenses are quickly learning that putting too much attention on Faison can leave them vulnerable to a quarterback who can not only air it out but can also, when the occasion presents itself, still pull the ball in and carry it himself.
In addition to football, Faulstich has been a mainstay of the j.v. basketball team the past three years and has played varsity lacrosse the past two seasons. Of the latter, he describes the disappointment of not having more playing time, even as he recognizes the team’s extraordinary level of talent, the aggregate of which – twenty Division I recruits, by Faulstich’s count – took them all the way to the GEICO National Championship Game last May in Washington, DC. “Basically, every athlete on that roster came from a team where he was the best,” Faulstich recognizes. “That can be a difficult ego-adjustment for those who are not the best here.”
Faulstich made that adjustment, appointing himself “bench captain” and spurring the other bench-warmers in support of their teammates on the field. “I wasn’t used to sitting on the bench,” he shares, “and it took time to recognize my role: supporting teammates from the bench and helping any way possible during the week to get them ready for games. I’m not sure any of the coaches were aware of the ‘bench captain’ designation, but the other team members acknowledged it. Last spring,” Faulstich concludes, “was my favorite team of any in my life.”
Quite a statement for someone who did not see any playing time in the semi-final or championship game. And quite a reflection on the maturity and true leadership of this competitive and passionate, yet contemplative and purposeful, student-athlete.