Athletics News: Smaller numbers can breed larger success rate

Coach Donna Holmwood, gives a pre-game pep talk to the Junior Girls Basketball team.

The first place people look to determine the success of a school’s athletic program is up on the walls of the gyms. They look for the flashy blue banners that indicate how many Provincial Championships have been won.  The quality of our athletic program extends much farther than the gym walls. We [coaches and athletics staff] recognize that the true potential of our young athletes lies in the future and we focus of setting all of our athletes up for life-long athletic achievements. The SMS athletic program has many unique advantages and opportunities that set us apart from other schools.

Our sports are coached by exemplary teachers who value and support the coaching philosophy of lifelong fitness. Their coaching supports the whole child. They understand the proven synergism between scholastics AND athletics and offer training and practice regimes that accommodate the demands of both.  The most important attribute of our coaches, however, is the fact that they instill in their athletes that participation in Secondary School sports are just one of the first steps toward reaching their true athletic potential.  Gillian Carleton* is just one of the many examples of how our athletic programs promote appropriate development and encourage our girls to believe in themselves and continue in sports beyond graduation from St. Margaret’s.

Research completed by many Canadian Sport Institutes has concluded that early sport specialization does not pay off in the long run. The “burn out” rate in athletes who specialize early (before grade 12) is very high. The most successful athletes are those that played many sports in their secondary years and didn’t focus on just one until later in their careers. Gillian Carleton told students when she visited the school in the fall that “she got a lot out of attending SMS, and tried all the school sports”.  SMS offers each student the opportunity to participate and “try” just about every sport. Because of the size of our school, girls get a chance to join teams they wouldn’t otherwise be able to in larger schools.

I was just recently told of a SMS senior student, who only a couple years ago, started playing soccer in grade 10 and because of our make-up was able to receive individualized coaching and valuable playtime which enabled her to go on and play soccer outside of the school league with a prestigious Provincial Team. This was an example of an opportunity only available at a school like ours.

Despite the lack of blue on our wall we have an extremely effective program that keeps a realist perspective on when the athletic potential of our students can be realized. Girls leave our school empowered, educated and enabled to pursue greatness in any sport they choose. We look forward to tracking the athletic accomplishments of our graduating athletes.

We will continue to expand our athletics program next year and are excited to bring in some new opportunities for students to get involved in.

*Gillian Carleton is an SMS graduate who recently won a bronze medal at the London Olympics in Track Cycling.


Written by Travis Chater, Athletics Director

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