Athletics at Hamilton!
Grit is a determinant of success in our culture. If a child is going to persevere through the education system and become a productive citizen they will need to have GRIT.
In Angela Duckworth’s new book “GRIT” she believes that GRIT can be grown from the outside in and specifically with children by engaging in extracurricular activities. She says that GRIT is created by engaging in a fun yet difficult activity and learning to persevere. For example, a child who likes soccer will learn to work very hard to be able to play, move up within the ranks of the team, and compete against their opponent. This lesson in perseverance will spill over into other areas of their life. “There are countless research studies showing that kids who are more involved in extracurricular activities fare better on just about every conceivable metric – they earn better grades, have high self-esteem, are less likely to be involved in high risk behavior and so forth.” She also points out that kids from low income families tend not to have as much grit as their more privileged peers. She theorizes that this could be because they often do not have the opportunity for extracurricular activities.
Many Hamilton School students do not participate in extracurricular activities because either their parents do not have money to pay for league fees and/or the parents are unable to provide transportation to and from the practices and meets.
In addition to the value of creating grit and looking long term for our kids we are finding that as they leave Hamilton School and join their peers in high school they are NOT joining or even trying out for the high school sports teams. In asking a sample of kids why they are not trying out, most of them feel insecure about their lack of experience in athletics. We want to change that!! We know that having kids in a sport in high school is ultimately important for academic success requiring a minimum GPA and for continuing to create perseverance and a sense of belonging that will help keep them in school.
Because Hamilton School realizes the value of sports in creating grit they have created an athletic program for our Middle School students. They are offering the following sports beginning this year.
Fall: Girls Soccer Winter: Girls Basketball
Boys Soccer Boys Basketball
Wrestling Spring: Track and Field
In order to provide this many sports opportunities for our kids they found it necessary to pay for an Athletic Director part time to manage the coaches and teams. We are raising funds to pay his stipend as well as that of the coaches for our teams, uniforms, and league fees. We recently applied for a School Fuel grant to fund this program and were awarded $5,000.
How will this proposal benefit the students?
As noted above, we believe that through these athletic teams our kids will benefit tremendously.
As our kids leave Hamilton and matriculate to high school they have limited athletic training because as also mentioned above they have not had the opportunity. In Marin County, so many of their more privileged peers have had athletic opportunities from a very early age. We are trying to level the playing field and create equity so that they at least know they can run, play soccer, basketball, etc. by the time they enter high school will be able to join a team which ultimately will lead to a higher rate of academic success.
Marin County is a tough place for our kids because there is such a discrepancy in the lives of students from low income families and their peers from more privileged homes. If our kids are going to feel comfortable trying out for soccer, cross country, basketball, wrestling, etc. they need to have some experience or they will not have the confidence to even attempt to join a team.
Aside from that, so much is learned from participating on a team: sportsmanship, teamwork, grit, etc. The lessons are invaluable.
The program is already successful. An organized and dedicated Athletic Director was hired. We have recruited high quality coaches, dedicated volunteers and have very enthusiastic students. With the addition of two 9 passenger vans that were funded last year through the fund a need, transportation is no longer an issue.