Del Mar Heights intramural sports promotes wellness, activity for all

The hockey “field” at Del Mar Heights school is lined with rain gutters to keep the “puck” from escaping.

Del Mar Heights School was recently honored as one of seven schools in California to receive the Distinguished School award for Physical Education, the only school in San Diego to receive such an accolade.

A walk through the ocean-view campus at Del Mar Heights School reveals open fields, vibrant gardens, and recreational play areas for students. The school is alive with students at play. Soccer and tennis, basketball and football games are ongoing while others are playing games of their own creation.

Ian Phillip is the school’s award-winning physical education instructor and founder of the Del Mar Heights Intramural Sports League. The league invites all students to participate in a variety of sports during their lunch recess periods. “I make a point of working with students to create teams that are inclusive of all of our students. We mix ability levels and genders and emphasize sportsmanship and healthy fun,” Phillip said.

Phillip has run ultimate frisbee, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and soccer leagues. The latest league, hockey, was created with an ingenious use of vinyl rain gutters joined to create a playing field where the hockey “puck” won’t roll away. Teams who win their competitions have the chance to play in a student versus teacher championship game.

Students and educators alike are delighted with the program, often coming out to celebrate the team competitions during their lunch periods. “I love intramural sports,” said one fifth-grader. “It’s a great way to enjoy recess with new sports.”

Art teacher Andrew Smith said, “It is such a pleasure to watch the kids develop healthy habits and the skills of teamwork. I appreciate that intramural sports welcomes all students, not just those who show the most skill.”