While student athletes across the country are forgoing school sports to venture into elite club opportunities, even from the youngest ages, Annie Wright Schools are finding ways to keep them close. Never afraid to be counter-cultural, the school is offering an alternative or complement to club programs, showing that we believe young students need opportunities to play a range of sports, and students’ needs should come first.
By offering a range of competitive opportunities from as early as Kindergarten, with practices and games right at school, students can explore a variety of sports, save time, build skills, learn teamwork, take risks, celebrate victories and weather defeats. In the safest of environments, they develop sportsmanship and passion, mentored by teachers and coaches who truly care about them.
According to Director of Athletics Mike Finch, specializing too early is neither healthy, nor productive. “Research suggests that by specializing in a single sport prior to the age of 16, a child’s body becomes one-dimensional and more prone to severe injuries come competitive play in high school and college,” he said. “Additionally, the child is more likely to burn out and lose interest in that sport. At AWS, we provide our Lower School and Middle School students with a wide range of recreational and competitive athletic experiences so that their bodies and minds are prepared for a range of athletic opportunities in Upper School.”
Providing a strong and varied athletics program at school offers so many other benefits. In the Annie Wright community, young athletes have built-in role models, and older athletes develop leadership skills. Upper Schoolers and alumni help coach and mentor their younger counterparts, and school-wide celebrations honor participation in a common sport. In addition, younger students cheer on their older schoolmates in soccer, volleyball, basketball and more, in matches right at their own school.
Elevating athletics also demonstrates Annie Wright’s overall commitment to excellent programs. While health and fitness have always been integral to the Annie Wright experience, a culture of athletic competition, and of winning, has grown precipitously, especially since Finch joined the school three years ago. The results are compelling. Annie Wright has gone to state competitions in basketball, volleyball, cross country, track, tennis and golf, and the athletics faculty firmly believe a state team win is in our new future.
New in Athletics
In the last year, a culture of opportunity and excellence has resulted in winning performances in both team and individual sports. Upper School girls’ basketball and soccer teams won a record number of season games, and an exceptional volleyball team, comprising mostly freshmen who are on the up-and-up, made it to districts. Varsity athletes represented Annie Wright in state basketball, cross country, track and golf competitions. Upper School boys inaugurated cross country, track, soccer, basketball and tennis teams last year, and this year a freshman became the first-ever Upper School boy to qualify for a state competition.
From Kindergarten, the Lower School now offers a range of soccer and basketball teams for girls and boys, as well as lacrosse for girls and coed flag football. Middle Schoolers continue to compete strongly in our league, and the Middle School volleyball team has been undefeated for two years.
Most importantly, students are participating at record levels. Last year 63% of students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 played team sports at school. Go Gators!
Your support makes these opportunities possible. Want to make an impact? Direct your Gators Give gift to Athletics here