Experiencing Personal & Team Success in High School Athletics
by Jennifer Esty, Sparhawk Upper School Teacher & Athletics Director
High School level athletics have been offered to Sparhawk students for three years. The program started with one student in a fall sport and now has grown to six students in all seasons (fall, winter,spring) on teams at three local schools and is growing each season. Sparhawk provides opportunities to students athletes by joining with other local schools in a cooperative team arrangement through the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).
Joining the MIAA was in response to a few students requesting the opportunity to participate in high school athletics however the program has brought many benefits to the Sparhawk community. In addition to participating in the athletics, Sparhawk has participated in the Student Ambassador program which focuses on being leaders in community service; attended several workshops regarding teen health; provided our perspective in gender issues in athletics; offered leadership training to our student athletes; free concussion training for students and staff and opportunities for scholarships and recognition. MIAA describes the role interscholastic athletic competition as follows:
"Interscholastic athletic competition is an extension of the classroom and an educational activity that provides outstanding opportunities to teach life lessons. Through participation in such programs, young people learn values and skills that help prepare them for the future. Leadership, goal setting, teamwork, decision making, perseverance, integrity, sacrifice, healthy competition and overcoming adversity are inherent in the interscholastic athletic framework and also support the academic mission of schools. Student-athletes earn the privilege to participate by succeeding academically, and the resulting positive outcomes continue far beyond graduation. These programs exist to prepare young men and women for the next level of life, not the next level of athletics. Wins are achieved through athletics by developing successful athletes and teams, but more importantly, wins are achieved through the educational experience by developing successful and responsible students, leaders and community members”.
Woven in the Sparhawk Mission we see similar strands of purpose for interscholastic sports. A “foundation of academic strength” aligns with data tells us student athletes achieve higher success than those not participating. "Qualities of character” can be built and tested during athletics training and competition as students overcome personal or team adversity. An important skill for our high school students is critical and creative thinking. While this is often consider an academic strength to grow at Sparhawk, it is well tested as students athletes gain the personal skills required for time management and prioritization to balance academic and athletic endeavors. This all builds a foundation to sustain Sparhawk students throughout their lives.
Fall 2018 athletics had personal and team success. Richie Labritz greatly improved his cross country times and was able to participate in a Freshman/Sophomore meet where he attained his personal best (PB) of 19.32 seconds for the 5km race. Maia Esty and the Amesbury girls soccer team have a very successful seaon with 11-3-4 season and are now deep into the playoffs with a game against St. Mary’s in Lynn 11/8 hoping to make it into the North Sectional Finals on Sunday.
In addition to high school Interscholastic athletics, some Sparhawk students participate in athletics in clubs. We are looking forward to seeing Jackson Musial back on the slopes after a very successful season skiing last year as part of the Attitash Race Team he attended and metaled the 2018 U14 Can-Am’s. Matthew Lichtenberg swims for Crimson Aquatics and Joseph Shannon with Oyster River, we look forward to cheering them on throughout the season!
If you have any questions or wish to learn more about the program please contact Sparhawk’s athletics director, Jennifer Esty, firstname.lastname@example.org