Here at Eagle Rock School we’re huge advocates of the notion that sports build character. That’s why we’ve put away our pens, pencils and books, pulled on our intramural uniforms and headed out to the Field of Dreams each Wednesday for the past two-dozen years,
Student and staff housemates become teammates as we compete against one another. At any given time during the school year, we have four houses competing and two houses refereeing. Which means everybody’s involved.
For three trimesters each year, you can find us out on the Field of Dreams, playing soccer, softball and Ultimate Frisbee. Then, during the winter months, we head indoors to play basketball, water volleyball, floor hockey, water polo and volleyball.
We recently introduced a new intramurals curriculum framed around the concept of “Building Personal and Social Responsibility Through Physical Activity.” Donald R. Hellison, a former Marine who has worked with kids at inner city schools, endorses this approach. Hellison’s unique physical education philosophy is outlined in several books, including A Reflective Approach to Teaching Physical Education and Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility Through Physical Activity.
The new curriculum utilizes learning targets and responsibility goals to guide students in learning skills through sports that they can apply elsewhere in their lives. Students learn effective communication, staying calm under pressure, giving their full effort, and working together as a team to achieve a goal.
Sports provide a platform for staff and students to work through differences and challenges in a way that is separate from the classroom. And the fact that we all play together helps us feel like a team that is working toward the same goals.
Of course, we also use Wednesdays as a time to truly engage with each other, and just have fun. Some of us are athletes with a competitive edge, and some of us are not. Some of us love sports and others aren’t very excited by the idea of anything that involves a ball, stick or physical challenge.
But on any given Wednesday, you’ll find cheering students, laughter, dancing on the sidelines and where competing equally takes place — quite literally — on a level playing field.
We celebrate our Wednesdays once a year with something different. This year, we staged the Eagle Rock Olympics, complete with a tug-of-war competition, a cake-baking contest, and even a “Fear Factor” event. Engaging with each other in different ways was fun and it helped teams learn to work together.
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About The Author: Anna Magle-Haberek is the Human Performance Center instructional specialist at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center. She teaches classes in physical education and health, including lifelong fitness, coaching, Run for Your Life and swimming. She also teaches Red Cross curriculum such as lifeguarding. Anna has worked in sports, health and fitness in a variety of positions including as a college track coach, a personal trainer and an EMT/Ranger with the National Park Service. She is certified through the Red Cross as a lifeguard instructor, water safety instructor, and a First Aid/CPR teacher.