The Positive Coaching Alliance has initiated a campaign amid the Covid-19 outbreak titled "Life is a Team Sport." The idea is to draw attention to the link between lessons learned in a sport environment that transfer over into other areas of life. Thing is, this link exists always, and although often hidden behind the more immediate attention paid to the scoreboard, we find that the link becomes more apparent as sport experiences are reduced down to the "bare bones" during this most recent time.
Significant national survey data supports the conclusion that young athletes value 3 core elements of participation in a sport:
1: Belonging. Being part of a team, with shared goals, shared commitment, and shared experiences, lies at the very heart of participation;
2: Belief. Believing that improvement is not only possible, but, with the right amount of effort and discipline, can often exceed even one's own expectations. Along with a vision and the hope of a better future, belief is absolutely crucial to continued participation;
3. Integrity. As part of a greater community, knowing that playing by the rules and upholding something of greater value than my immediate comfort or success, brings a genuine sense of gratitude to the athlete properly motivated and committed.
Canterbury School has long been committed to highlighting these elements within the athletics arena. As such, students enjoy the participation they desire, and further, with the Policy of Inclusion at the base of our athletics philosophy, the vast majority students attending the MS and HS have access to these experiences. In the spirit of "gotta be in it to win it," it is clear that participation is the fundamental entry point of any benefit, and as the top answer to the survey data mentioned reveal, students value the connection that results from belonging to a team. It is this open access, to all who are sincere in their motives, that provides so much benefit to individual student athletes. Indeed, it is this benefit primarily, that provides the ultimate support for education-based athletics.
Add to that student engagement the connection they have to caring and committed adults, adults who create learning environments that challenge students to grow and improve, and you see even more benefits! Nurturing a growth mindset among their athletes, coaches at Canterbury emphasize effort and process over results and outcomes. By doing so, coaches (teachers at heart!) play a huge role in the creation of lifelong learners who possess the curiosity and discipline to engage in the passionate pursuit of success that our graduates represent!
The third crucial element revealed by athletes surveyed is perhaps most in line with Canterbury's mission, namely, being committed to endeavors with integrity. Looking beyond self and embracing responsibility for community well-being are hallmarks of Canterbury students. Having many opportunities to experience teamwork and shared goals, first hand through athletics participation, serve our students very well as they strengthen these inner skills and prepare to make real positive impact in the larger world after graduation.
So clearly, there will come a time when we turn the scoreboards back on, (sooner than later, we hope!) And while winning the games is great, what will be greater still would be taking to heart the lessons that students learn through athletics that have never been reflected on the scoreboard. Perhaps our "new normal" can include our ability to "keep score" in real time of these valuable areas of growth.