Spotlight on Sports
I have assembled this spotlight on sports in boarding schools so that parents and prospective students can explore the incredible variety of athletics which schools offer. As I have pointed out many times, athletics are not optional in boarding school. Athletics are one part of a comprehensive program most schools adopt to educate the whole child in mind, body and spirit. What do you do if your child is not athletically inclined? Don't worry. Schools are accustomed to students with just about every background you can think of. Your child will surprise you after a few weeks at school by exclaiming "Mommy! I love sprinting!" If you live within driving distance of her school, even better. You can attend games. We used to enjoy driving up to the old girls' campus of Kent School on Skiff Mountain to watch our daughter play field hockey. The toughest issue with boarding school athletics which she will encounter is which ones to select.
69 schools offer crew. Most schools assume that their students have never rowed before. As a result, they offer a solid grounding in the sport combined with all the ergnometrics required.
Groton School, Groton, MA
"Since Groton’s founding in 1884, rowing has been a prominent sport. Girls began to row as soon as the school became coed in 1976. Groton rows in 4 person shells with a coxswain to steer the boat and give commands. We generally have eight boats of girls for a team of 40 girls (Varsity and JV). Groton girls crew has had consistent success in our dual races and at Championships."
152 schools offer football. These programs vary widely so be sure to evaluate individual programs thoroughly. Here's the program one of the fine boys' boarding schools offers.
McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN
"McCallie has been playing football since the school opened in 1905. One of the storied programs of the South, McCallie has compiled an impressive overall record of 622-352 in over 100 years of football.
Currently, McCallie has a coaching staff of 16 full-time staff members and five part-time coaches to oversee a program consisting of sixth, seventh and eighth grade teams in middle school and ninth, junior varsity and varsity teams in the high school serving approximately 160 boys."
111 schools offer field hockey. Here is a peek at one school's program.
The Ethel Walker School, Simsbury, CT
"Walker’s field hockey program competes in the Western New England Prep School Field Hockey Association (WNEPSFHA), a division of the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC). Walker's is a Class “C” division competitor, and also competes in the prestigious Founders League. League competitors include Choate, Taft, Hotchkiss, Loomis, Westminster, Kent, Kingswood Oxford and Miss Porter's."
213 schools offer golf.
Woodberry Forest School, Woodberry Forest, VA
"We offer golf to every student who wants to play. During the spring of 2015, fifty-three students played golf as their afternoon activity.
The golf program engages Andrew Rice, PGA Teaching professional from Bluffton, SC, to work with our varsity golfers. Andrew makes a yearly visit to campus for a weekend clinic and is available via the Internet during the rest of the year.
Since the Virginia Preparatory League offered golf as a team sport in 1976, Woodberry Forest has won 28 titles, including 13 in a row between 1992-2004. We have currently won six of the last seven league titles."
103 schools offer ice hockey which is no longer just for boys as Kent School's program illustrates.
Kent School, Kent, CT
"Kent Hockey utilizes the most up-to-date training techniques, ranging from game video analysis to player conditioning through personalized training programs. Player readiness is developed on the Manual D. Nadal Rink on campus and in Kent’s state-of-the-art fitness center. What is more, our girls engage in this highly competitive playing environment, while balancing their commitment to academics and while living within a fine community of scholarship. The Kent experience certainly teaches girls the critical skills of the game, but Kent Hockey prides itself on the qualities of hard-work, teamwork and leadership—those very qualities that will follow our athletes in all they endeavor beyond our campus."
185 schools offer lacrosse which continues to enjoy enormous popularity among players of all ages.
Wyoming Seminary, Kingston, PA
"Wyoming Seminary’s girls’ lacrosse team is the premiere girls’ lacrosse program in northeastern Pennsylvania. In our inaugural season as a member of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), the Blue Knights won the District II Championship and captured the title again in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Blue Knights went onto play in the PIAA State Tournament all four seasons and in 2013, then played in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. "
Indoor racquet sports
61 schools offer badminton and squash.
Middlesex School, Concord, MA
"Middlesex athletes are graced with the good fortune of great facilities. Our teams sprint on immaculate fields, row on a picturesque river, work out in a spacious fitness center, and scoop up lacrosse balls on two state-of-the-art turf surfaces.
They hold serve in eight international squash courts, skate on a rink that transforms into indoor tennis courts in the spring, and dance in a bright, airy studio. They pitch on manicured diamonds, rally on eight outdoor tennis courts, sink three-pointers on two hardwood courts, and have the privilege of running along the same wooded paths Henry David Thoreau walked in 1840."
65 schools offer riding programs.
The Madeira School, McLean, VA
"Designed to challenge both the beginner and the experienced rider, the goal of the program is to develop self-assured and disciplined riders capable of participating in a wide range of equestrian activities. Instructors are committed to assisting each rider develop her talents and skills and achieve a sense of individual accomplishment."
292 schools offer soccer programs, proof of the popularity of this internationally loved sport.
Pomfret School, Pomfret, CT
"A number of Pomfret alums have used their soccer experience on the Hilltop to help them continue their soccer careers at the collegiate level. Recent alums playing soccer at the collegiate level include Kyle Lasewicz '11 at Bentley University, Charlie Gruner '13 (NESCAC First Team in 2014) at Wesleyan University, JD Hayward '14 at St. Anslem, and Peter Meehan '14 at Sewanee. Other recent Pomfret soccer alums have gone on to play baseball, lacrosse, and hockey at the collegiate level."
162 schools offer swimming as well as other related aquatic sports.
Emma Willard School, Troy, NY
"Cheel Aquatic Center is one of the finest swimming and diving facilities in the capital region with a six-lane competition pool and a one-meter diving board. Home to the Emma Willard varsity swimming and diving team, Cheel Aquatic center is also open to the local community to rent, is a lifeguard-training site for Emma students and faculty, and is open to students and employees during recreational swim hours."
183 schools offer track and field. Track includes many activities. I have offered Saint Andrew's overview of their athletic program as it includes track and all the other sports. Most private schools embrace similar views.
Saint Andrew's School, Boca Raton, FL
"Knowing that participation in athletics improves students’ self-confidence and overall health, our coaching staff is committed to fostering each student-athlete’s confidence, decision-making skills, sense of responsibility, and leadership skills - qualities that will serve them well throughout life. We hope that, by taking advantage of the many positive experiences that sports have to offer, each participant will enjoy his/her time on the playing fields and courts, and will take with them many exciting memories.
Through fostering broad participation in sports and enthusiastic support for the school’s teams, the Athletic Department also seeks to generate a sense of pride in the student body, the faculty, and the larger school community. Our school is a member of the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) and fully supports their policies and regulations."
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