by Chris Hartley, director of athletics
There are no better days during the school year then when I can cheer on our teams and athletes. Whether hosting an event at The Paul G. Allen Athletics Center — one of the best high school athletics facilities in the area — or lending my voice to the cheering section at an away event, I love my job on those days!
A close second for me is when all our program heads and athletics staff meet monthly to talk about how the Lakeside Athletics program can get better. We think about equitable practices, and we work to create systems and policies that ensure a student-athlete’s experience, no matter the sport, is a positive one that is celebrated by the school. Recently, our work has focused on creating scope and sequence documents for each sport that include the school’s competencies and mindsets. A scope and sequence includes the breadth and depth of content and skills that are covered, and how that content and skills are ordered and presented to students over time. And part of Lakeside’s re-envisioning involves the broadening of the school’s focus to the competencies and mindsets we believe will help our students thrive in their personal and professional lives. (You can find more about the re-envisioning here and in Head of School Bernie Noe’s article this month.)
Below, you will find some examples of how Lakeside Athletics is committing to competencies and mindsets. This work shows the creativity and dedication of our program heads, a group of individuals who care deeply about education-based athletics. All our coaches know that they are teaching far more than sport-specific skills.
Introspection and emotional intelligence (swimming): Our athletes spend a significant amount of time together, in and out of the pool, and we want them to be able to connect and provide social-emotional support to each other. As competitors in a sport where there are not many places to hide and people can see your every muscle, students need to be able to feel vulnerable and take risks. But that is easier said than done. With the powerful support of teammates and friends, our students can build the grit and resilience needed to succeed in such a sport. By developing their empathy and self-awareness (skills that contribute to introspection and emotional intelligence), swimmers can be better teammates and more tuned-in leaders, and build a team culture and community that allows everybody to feel part of something special, rather than left out in the cold. – Matt Miller
Resilience (boys crew): Improvement requires change, and in crew, any change is encouraged, even if, in an effort to correct form, athletes overcompensate and go too far in the other direction. All failures (particularly in erg testing and racing) are treated as learning opportunities. What can rowers do differently next time to have a different or better outcome, and how do they prepare for that? When we have a practice in which large portions of the team have difficulty, we repeat the workout, adding preparation for a better outcome. Quitting on a workout is not allowed (other than for injury); even if it’s not a success, it can still be an achievement. – Jeff Iqbal
Ethical (football): One of Lakeside football’s priorities is student leadership and ethical behavior. In an era when football often garners negative news and perpetuates stereotypes, we want our football players to be some of the school’s most outstanding community members, and for that excellence to manifest in different ways and for different reasons. Coaches and players discuss at length the reasons why football garners negative attention — issues such as toxic masculinity, ignorance of mental and physical health, and results-driven cultures — and how we can proactively combat those issues on our team and in our community. We talk about small actions adding up — picking up garbage on the field, putting away dishes in the WCC, etc. — but also actions that make the school a better place for everyone: standing up for and supporting fellow students, attending events that show support for marginalized groups, and owning and being responsible for our own actions. – Mike Lengel
Growth and learning (girls soccer): Just as it is in the classroom, growth and learning are a fundamental mindset in girls soccer — and most sports! What does this look like? Students are encouraged to be humble and motivated learners; identify and accept areas of strength and areas for improvement; and set intentions for each day to work on and improve those areas of need and enhance areas of strength. Students are coached to accept that sometimes failure occurs and can also provide a spark for future growth. Coaches work with players to help them lock their focus onto each area, rather than becoming distracted by uncontrollable variables. The team uses a structured debriefing plan to evaluate the day’s intentional work on the field, creating a feedback loop for effective skill acquisition. Coaches consider growth as it connects with outcome rather than evaluate growth solely as a function of outcome success. Finally, students focus on the process of attuning to each transition moment so that they can be the best version of themselves in that moment. – Derrek Falor
Unfortunately, due to the shutdown of sports since March 2020, we have not been able to put all of our commitments to competencies and mindsets into practice. Our program heads and coaches are eager to come together with our student-athletes soon and center our work on ideals like these. We hope that you will offer feedback when you see us doing this work well or when you see us falling short.
Chris Hartley is director of athletics at Lakeside School. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.