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Marvelous Marauder Mathletes

How Maclay Mu Alpha Theta Has Become One of the Strongest Teams in the Region Within Two Years

Photo by Leah Song/Maclay Andalusian

How did a brand new math team from a small private school come to dominate the region?

Maclay Mu Alpha Theta (ΜΑΘ) hosted its first regional Florida Association of Mu Alpha Theta (FAMAT) competition on Feb. 3. The team won second place for calculus and precalculus, third place for statistics and fourth place for algebra II and geometry, bringing the overall third place trophy home. 

Despite the recent achievements, Maclay ΜΑΘ has not always been successful like this. The club had been inactive for several years until it had a fresh start when upper school math teacher John Gussaroff, most commonly known as “Mr. G,” took over as a sponsor in the 2021-2022 school year. Even then, the club had a very small group of competing members compared to most other public schools in the region, with only around 10 competitors across two subjects.

“There are a lot of people who are really good at math, but they just don’t know what to do with that,” ΜΑΘ co-president junior Diya Patel said. “It’s nice to have a community of people who like the same thing.”

When the next year came around, Maclay ΜΑΘ started slowly expanding. Despite their small but growing group, Marauder mathletes successfully competed in regional and state competitions under a full team. In the 2023 FAMAT state convention, the team placed fourth place overall in the category of schools with less than 40 students. In the 2023-2024 school year, the ΜΑΘ grew exponentially into the third largest club at Maclay, even hosting the first FAMAT regional of the school’s history. In the past regional competitions, the team placed multiple third-place awards.

“I joined ΜΑΘ because I love math, Mr. G is awesome and a bunch of my friends do it,” freshman Ella Pike said. “My favorite part of ΜΑΘ is the people. I met some of my closest friends through it and I’m so thankful for that.”

Competing against large public schools can be difficult as Maclay has a relatively small team and fewer practice hours due to the A/B schedule. Despite the handicap, the mathletes have been working extra hard, dedicating their lunch, FLEX, and after-school hours to team practices with Gussaroff.

“It’s really nice of him,” ΜΑΘ event manager sophomore Anna Chucku said. “When he’s not doing stuff for his actual class, he spends all his time working with us. He’s a really dedicated and good sponsor.”

One of the major reasons Maclay ΜΑΘ became successful in such a short term is that the members have built strong friendships, which make the work genuinely fun. ΜΑΘ has members ranging from freshmen to seniors, but the common interest in math connects students to form a community that otherwise would not exist.

“My first competition at Rickards was super fun,” sophomore Will Hunkapillar said. “We went and hung out at the playground and had some downtime and lunch when Anna ate too much pizza and it was really really fun.”

Maclay ΜΑΘ has also contributed to math enrichment at school. Before the revival of ΜΑΘ, several students had to experience being bored in their regular math classes or running out of learning opportunities if they had already completed their high school math curriculum. However, with advanced math classes and external practice materials, many of those students can now have more enthusiastic experiences with math.

“I was in a position where the [AP Calculus] BC class was too easy for me, and then I made the credit and completed the class, so I was kind of just stuck there and probably wouldn’t have studied math if it wasn’t for ΜΑΘ,” junior Landon Fantle said.

For the remainder of the 2024 school year, the team is expecting another regional and state competition. Additionally, along with the support of the math department and the school administration team, the club plans to expand their practice hours in the following years, either through incorporating a competition class or using school hours provided by the future Maclay schedule.

“The new Maclay schedule, whatever it ends up being, is a better schedule for academic clubs to meet regularly without taking away from other activities, so we’re moving in a direction for Maclay that will make it easier to have a club like this,” Gussaroff said.


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