Top 7 Reasons for a School for Athletes like Bridgedale

    Posted on Monday, August 26, 2019 at 4:50 PM

    Posted by Mike McPartlin on Aug 26, 2019 4:50:50 PM

    Developing the Entire Student-Athlete

    By Mike McPartlin, Headmaster, Bridgedale Academy


    Most schools are doing a disservice to their students

    It's a sad reality that most schools today are doing a terrible, and in many cases irreversible, disservice to the students they are entrusted to educate. Far too often their priorities are out of whack and the truly important things students need to learn end up being sacrificed on the altar of cultural fads.


    And this is especially true when it comes to boys, and all the more important during the crucial pre-teen development years.


    But you can enhance your son's athletic and academic performance


    How valuable is a school for athletes that understands and deals straight up with the fact that boys need physical activity, on a daily basis, and that getting that physical activity improves their academics?

    What if that same school offers its student-athletes an elite classical education?

    What if that school actually encourages the boys to be competitive? Won't that yield benefits that go above and beyond just sports and academics?

    Boys excel in such an environment. And the benefits last a lifetime.

    So let’s get to it. Here are my 7 top reasons for boys to attend a school for athletes like Bridgedale Academy.

    • Boys at this age need a daily release for their abundant energy
    • A classical school academic curriculum is simply better
    • Small class sizes make a big difference
    • Boys do better academically in an all-boys school
    • Competitive boys in a competitive environment
    • All-around athletic development to support the specific sport
    • Sport-specific skill development including thinking skills

    All these factors will be constantly at work in a properly run school for athletes. So let’s look at each factor separately.

    • Boys at this age have more energy than they know what to do with

    Little Boy EnergyMost young girls can sit still in school and behave themselves like proper young ladies. Young boys need to be able to release their “little boy energy.” This is especially true of active, athletic boys. At a school for athletes like Bridgedale Academy, student-athletes have the daily outlet of athletic training. This is healthy and positive.

    But offering boys an appropriate athletic outlet is precisely what most schools do NOT do. Many either don’t even offer recess, or they strictly limit it, preventing boys from behaving like boys during what little recess they do offer.


    • A classical school academic curriculum is simply better

    A Classical Education for AthletesAs the US falls further and further behind other nations in terms of academic achievement, it becomes clearer and clearer that a classical education is simply better for youngsters, i.e. than today’s “progressive” education system.

    A classical education is rigorous. It does not leave your child’s development to his own impulses and whims. 

    In this regard, a classical education works much in the same way that rigorous sports training aids in a child’s athletic performance. 

    The fact is that classical education is at the very foundation of our western civilization. Yet virtually ALL schools today either downplay or ignore the principles that guide a classical education, things like moral virtue and learning how to become citizens capable of self-government. Many schools today actually reject these principles outright.

    A school that offers a classical education is thus training the entire student-athlete, not just the athlete. (Bridgedale Academy’s academic curriculum is based on the classical curriculum of Hillsdale Academy in Hillsdale, MI.)

    To learn more about why a classical education is better, check out Why a Classical Education? for a fuller discussion.


    • Small class sizes make a big difference

    Benefits of Small Class SizeA school for athletes will usually have smaller class sizes. Bridgedale Academy, for example, caps its class sizes at 16 students per grade level.

    Rather than belabor the point again here, see our previous blog The Benefits of Small Class Size to learn why that’s so valuable. Also, check out Does Class Size Matter? by economics professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach.


    • Boys learn better in an all-boys school 

    Scientific studies firmly establish that boys perform better academically in all-boys schools than they do in coed schools. This is especially true at the middle school grade ages, i.e. when the earlier maturing girls leave the boys in their dust.

    One of our prior blogs, Do Boys Learn Better in an All-Boys School?, goes into detail about these benefits.

    And so to reap all of these benefits, a school for athletes, like Bridgedale, would also be an all-boys school.


    • Competitive boys in a competitive environment

    At Bridgedale, our competitive boys are surrounded during the school day by other competitive boys. They compete with each other athletically, they compete with each other academically, and they compete with each other as they learn to be leaders.

    Isn’t this a good thing?

    But in today’s politically correct education system, a boy’s natural competitiveness is often frowned upon, even discouraged. 

    And, unfortunately, we are learning on a massive scale that this can be debilitating for boys. See Bias Against Boys in Education to learn more about the fallout from years of our education system discouraging boys from being boys.

    (Here's a true story:

    A Bridgedale parent wanted to know why his son was willing to leave his prior school and friends to enroll at Bridgedale Academy.

    “Don’t you like the kids at your school?” he asked.

    “I like those kids a lot,” replied his son, “but none of them are like me.” 

    What the boy meant of course was that his friends from that school were not as dedicated to achieving their goals as he was to achieving his. They were not as competitive.)


    • All-around athletic development to support the specific sport

    Youth Soccer PlayerAt a school for athletes like Bridgedale Academy, the entire athlete, the whole person, will be developed. As long as the athletic programs are designed and overseen by top youth athlete development professionals, the development of general athleticism through training and participation in other sports will be part and parcel of the development process. 

    It is well-settled science today that youth athletes are better off if they participate in multiple sports/physical activities before they ultimately choose to specialize in a single sport. 


    • Sport-specific skill development including thinking skills

    At the same time, however, skill development, crucial to youth athletes, demands the use of proper techniques in their specific sport. This is arguably the MOST important thing about training youth athletes.

    Because without proper techniques, young athletes will be severely limited in their ability to apply strength and power to their skills set as they get older. 

    (See our prior blog Get 36 Weeks of Hockey Camp for a more detailed analysis of skill development in youth hockey players.) 

    But there’s more.

    As young players move up the competitive pyramid within their chosen sport, pretty much ALL the players have developed their physical skills to a certain level.

    This is why the thinking skills are so crucial.

    In every sport, it is the mental game that separates the great players from the merely good ones.

    How an athlete "thinks" the game ultimately determines how far he will advance.


    A school for athletes that combines these factors into a single unified curriculum will by definition create an environment that fosters both academic and athletic development. But more importantly, it will nurture the natural instincts and impulses of young boys aspiring to excel, not only as student-athletes but also as future men and, ideally, as leaders in their communities.

    And so developmentally, a school for athletes like Bridgedale Academy is the best option available for the aspiring young male athlete.

    At Bridgedale Academy, these 7 factors are constantly at play, combining to make it the perfect environment for young hockey players (4th through 8th grade levels) to develop both academically and athletically.



    Talk to Headmaster

    At Bridgedale we are committed to the development of our young student-athletes, helping them to develop their physical and mental skills so they can perform at their best when it matters most, no matter the arena of life that challenges them. If you would like to learn more about Bridgedale Academy, please click the button below so we can schedule a time to chat.
                                                                                           Mike McPartlin, Headmaster, Bridgedale Academy



    Attention 4th Graders

    In addition to our 5th through 8th graders, Bridgedale Academy is accepting a limited number of 4th graders for the 2023-24 school year, on a case-by-case basis. Please call me at 708-712-5079 to inquire. 

    Mike McPartlin, Headmaster


    Bridgedale Academy School for Athletes

    Bridgedale students LOVE going to school,

    and so they THRIVE in it.

    They LOVE coming to school every day.

    And as a result, they are thriving.

    They engage academically ...

    ... and so they come to love learning.

    They also love that they get to work on the sport they have such passion for, while also training to become better athletes, all as part of their school day.

    They train athletically ...

    ... and so they more fully develop their skills.

    They LOVE getting so much better ... so much sooner.

    They are physically fit and mentally alert ... they are thriving.



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    Wayne Gretzky


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    Bridgedale is now enrolling students for the 2024-25 School Year. 

    Bridgedale Academy is an all-boys school for athletes, a prep school for serious youth hockey players. We offer the 4th through 8th grades. In addition to our winning combination of sports and academics, we focus on leadership training. We use a classical academic curriculum and our graduates go on to attend some of the most prestigious high schools in the midwest, including Lake Forest Academy, Culver Military Academy, Shattuck St. Mary’s, Northwood School, Benet Academy, Fenwick Prep, Loyola Academy, St. Ignatius Prep, Marmion Academy, St. Viator, Latin School and Providence Catholic. We pride ourselves on being the top youth hockey prep school in the nation. Our grads go on to top colleges and universities, including Notre Dame, Harvard, Denver, Ohio State, Bentley, Western Michigan, Miami (OH), Boston College, Tufts, Nebraska (Omaha), Hobart, Adrian, MSOE and more.  More than thirty (30) of our graduates have already received their NCAA Division 1 college hockey commitments. Seven (7) of our grads have gone on to compete for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP). Nine (9) of our grads have been NHL-drafted (one made his NHL debut this past season). Our grads play at all levels of college hockey and many are now playing junior hockey in the USHL, the NAHL and the OHL.
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