Developing the Entire Student-Athlete
By Mike McPartlin, Headmaster, Bridgedale Academy
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 a 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 learn better, boys excel, in such an environment. And the benefits can last a lifetime.
So let’s get to it. What follows 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
Most 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.
A study out of Finland finds there is a direct link between more physical activity and better academic performance. The study, called Physical Activity May Boost School Performance, notes that this was especially true for boys.
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.
There is another interesting article, this one geared toward early childhood development, that also discusses in great detail the different developmental needs of boys as compared to girls, pointing out that these differences show up at a young age where boys demonstrate a deep-seated need for lots of physical activity. You can check out this article at: The Challenges of Boys in Our Early Childhood Programs.
- A classical school academic curriculum is simply better
As 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
A 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 Northwestern University ecomonics professor Dr. 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?
Former 4-Star Army General Colin Powell believes it is. He said: “If you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.”
He also cautioned, “You become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad.” Theses quotes, and more from General Powell on the topic, can be found at GoodReads.com.
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
At 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. For an interesting study on how this translates to a decision-making sport like hockey, see this Study Out of Australia that compares the development of expert decision-making skills in team sports.
- 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 golfers and hockey players (5th through 8th grade levels) to develop both academically and athletically.
"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
To learn more about Bridgedale Academy, please click the button below so we can schedule a time to chat.