Blending sports and education fosters San Diego student athletes
By Kevin Yaley, Head of Francis Parker School
School sports teams are a San Diego staple. But despite the thrill that many of us get cheering for our favorite San Diego student athletes, we often forget the formative power that comes from blending athletics and academics. Sports are a fun way to encourage students to get fit, stay active and learn about competition; but they also teach young people valuable lessons about leadership and teamwork, and underscore the importance of physical fitness – a key component of overall well being.
Integrating inclusion and competition to train balanced athletes
Many schools incorporate physical education and teamwork exercises into the standard curriculum. However, not all schools provide young people with an inclusive environment for learning new sports, developing new skills and experiencing friendly competition. In some cases, an emphasis on refined skills and physical prowess can lead to limited athletic options for less experienced students; and in others, successful athletes competing on premier teams may struggle to keep up with their school work in the face of rigorous game and practice schedules. In order for young people to benefit from school sports without compromising their academic opportunities, it is important for educators to strike the right balance.
At Francis Parker School, we believe that this balance can be found by uniting enthusiastic support for Junior Varsity and Varsity athletic teams with devoted advocacy for well-rounded students. Our athletic program is recognized throughout San Diego County as a distinctive opportunity for students who are equally serious about athletics and academics. And for those who simply want to learn new skills and experience the joys of working with a team, we also maintain a no-cut policy to ensure that everyone has the chance to participate in the sport of their choice.
Athletics are an integral part of student life at Parker, from Lower School all the way through to graduation. Younger students have the chance to hone their motor skills, experiment with new activities and foster a love and respect for sportsmanship and fitness through participation in a variety of sports. Our 7th and 8th grade students then move on to interscholastic competition on Parker’s sports teams, choosing one sport per season. Upper School students have the opportunity to try out for Frosh/Soph, Junior Varsity or Varsity sports teams, all of which compete with other schools throughout the County. Alternatively, students in grades 9-12 can also choose to take part in Physical Education classes or Independent PE studies.
Taking athletics to the next level
We at Parker are proud to have over sixty alumni currently pursuing athletic careers at NCAA Division I, II and III programs across the country. As advanced student athletes, these individuals exemplify the Parker model by translating lessons learned here at our school out into the world – and we consider them to be representatives of our overarching philosophy and role models for current and future students.
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