Win or lose, it's all fair game

Five questions with THS's head of wellness, Adrian Willett


How did you develop a love for sports?

It started out with recess actually. Playing with my classmates in first or second grade, being outside for recess or after school was the beginning. From there I got into more organized sports like soccer, baseball, basketball, football. It started out with fun but then I really enjoyed the competitive side of it too.


While being competitive, how did you develop good sportsmanship?

Seeing different teammates and coaches and their personalities come through was probably the main way I saw good sportsmanship modeled, or not in some cases. Even now as an adult, you kind of see what’s acceptable and not acceptable, so you figure what to do and what not to do. Kids put two and two together about what values they see encouraged by the adults around them. In sports, if you do something that crosses the boundaries, you get a penalty. I wasn’t one of those people who skirted the edge but I saw plenty of people who did.


What does good sportsmanship mean?

When students with higher or above average physical abilities find the patience and the willingness to work with others who don’t have the same ability level as them for the greater good of the team, that’s a pretty good example. Sportsmanship is also just doing your best and sometimes acknowledging that someone is just better than you are even after you’ve done your best. It’s basically the same for sports as well as at work or school- people who help others in a team atmosphere know how to share the ball and work with others so everyone has equal chances and winning doesn’t come at the cost of being kind. It becomes an inclusive approach...which can be pretty hard for younger kids sometimes because they just want to show off.


How do you encourage competition and drive while teaching sportsmanship?

It’s good to give both opportunities: to be super competitive and also to encourage teamwork with others. Some kids will also need extracurricular activities where the focus is more on competitiveness and a trophy but in PE we’re pretty aware of the student abilities and personalities and we will mix them up so it encourages competition and motivation to improve while also encouraging team work. We don’t overdo mixing and matching abilities because it can be frustrating to be a mismatch and also because it lowers confidence of kids who are not as strong in a given skillset.  


How do you cultivate a lifelong interest in physical activity?

You can do over time, by exposing children to a variety of sports and doing it with them. Kids definitely need that exposure from parents to try different things, a mix of team and individual activities too. My parents took me on bike rides and that’s something that really stuck with me. I still enjoy bike riding now. I probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much if I didn’t have that early exposure. Same thing with gymnastics, I was in gymnastics in Elementary school and stopped at 3rd or 4th grade but the interest is still there even though I can’t perform the movements any longer. Just consistent exposure over time helps with the habits we hope to encourage.


Photo is of Adrian high-fiving High Schoolers at Sports Day while his daughter watches daddy model good sportsmanship from the sidelines.


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