I believe we are lucky to have education-based athletics in high schools in the United States.
Here’s how the National Federation of State High School Associations describes education-based athletics: “The term ‘education-based athletics/activities’ has been used frequently to describe the U.S. model of incorporating sports and other activity programs within the high school setting. The opportunity to participate in sports as a part of a young person’s overall educational experience is a privilege that is not available in most countries.”
There are numerous benefits to having competitive interscholastic athletic opportunities at an academic institution. At Colorado Academy, we are fortunate to have many teachers in all of our divisions who choose to coach after they finish their teaching responsibilities. Christine West and Sadie Christlieb are two examples of teachers who finish working with their Lower School students and then hustle over to work with our C-Team Volleyball players. Soccer Coach Gabe Bernstein, an Upper School dean and counselor, works with many students during the day and then quickly changes roles and leads the defending State Championship Boys Soccer Team. Having adults who are able to influence and understand students both in the classroom and on the playing fields provides additional touch points that positively impact our students.
Seamless scheduling and logistics are another advantage of having athletic opportunities occur on campus. Most of our CA practices take place on or near our campus. Being able to end the academic day and then transition easily to the fields on campus for practice and competition reduces the burden on families. It’s just much simpler to have everything right here at CA. Also, our academic calendar coordinates with our athletics calendar, and the downtime for students from their studies often matches up with rest time from their athletic pursuits.
More advantages to education-based athletics
The support staff—whether academic, social and emotional, college counseling, sports performance, or sports medicine—are all right here at CA too. Having great individuals like Kate O’Donnell, Liza Skipwith, Wes Kirk, Rich Griswold, Jade Callan, college counselors, and our deans supporting what our teachers do in the classroom and what our coaches do on the courts and fields makes it easier for our student-athletes to really focus on their effort, their skill development, and their mental health. All of these adults communicate frequently about the individuals on all of our teams and collaborate to achieve what’s best for our kids.
When it comes to college admissions, I have spent countless hours talking with our coaches, our athletes, and our college counselors about an individual’s ability both on the field and in the classroom, trying to help our students find the best fit when they choose colleges.
As a school that offers so much right here on campus, students also have the opportunity to develop a variety of interests. Working with Director of Visual & Performing Arts Katy Hills, it’s easy to help students who participate in athletics and the arts to navigate and coordinate the myriad rehearsals, performances, and sports games and practices that occur at CA.
We are here to create positive learning experiences through sports that align with everything else that’s available to students at CA. With both academics and athletics, we put process before outcome. Our students and student-athletes graduate and matriculate at some of the finest academic institutions in the country and play their chosen sport at some of the top programs in the country. I hope to see you at a game this fall. Please check the CA website for game details. Go Mustangs!