Collegiate affords its students an incredible amount of opportunities. From international trips to its STEAM program, Collegiate offers its students a wide variety of activities. However, one often overlooked offering is Cub sports. This sports program for 7th and 8th grade students at Collegiate offers them an opportunity to play sports with their friends, many of whom they have never competed with before. Every student is guaranteed placement on a team and playing time in games, something not guaranteed at the JV or varsity level. The sports offered with the “Cub” designation for the fall are football, soccer, field hockey, and volleyball. While some students have played these sports through other organizations, such as the Richmond Kickers or Western Wildcat football, for many students this is the first time they will have the opportunity to represent Collegiate on the athletic field.
Picking a sport can be a challenge for many, as most students have never participated in the sports that Collegiate offered. When I asked my seventh grade sister, Molly (‘22), why she chose field hockey, she credited her P.E. coach who informed her during the a field hockey unit that “she was a natural.” She said that compliment, combined with “the ability to be with my friends every day,” made field hockey an easy choice for her. John W. (22’), another seventh grader, said he chose soccer because he has been playing for the Kickers for the past few years and has really enjoyed it. When asked what they were most looking forward to this season, Molly said, “I am really excited to go to away games and bond with my team. I have never played field hockey before, but I know that I will improve a lot, so I guess I am also looking forward to that.” John told me “I am most looking forward to the games and figuring out how to work together with my team.” John also mentioned how he was worried about his time management, as he also plays soccer outside of school for the Kickers and does not get home until 8:30 some evenings. While both Molly and John were a little nervous about the new responsibilities that comes with playing sports, the consensus from both of them was that they are excited to start their athletic careers at Collegiate.
Head athletic trainer Shannon Winston says that while the training staff does not see many Cub athletes when the season starts, they see Cub athletes more frequently as the season wears on. She believes this is a result of overuse injuries. She says that the most common injuries in sports are to the heel and knee, which result from the fact the kids are growing. When asked if she thought the program was beneficial to the students, she said, “Definitely. The middle school program here is very good at slowly progressing these younger bodies into the sport, and the amount of time they practice and the intensity the practice is less. It also helps teach them values of sportsmanship.” Coach Winston’s own son, a seventh grader, chose football because it was the sport he felt most comfortable with and what he thought he would excel most in. Upper School economics and government teacher Rob Wedge, a Cub football coach, said he decided to begin coaching Cub sports because “I think that learning the fundamentals of the game—whatever game you choose to play—is really important. Cub sports is an opportunity to ground our future athletes in the fundamentals of the game.”
Cub sports are the perfect introduction to Collegiate athletics and offer a fun and safe way to learn a sport while bonding with classmates. While it does bring some add some extra responsibilities, I remember that my years playing Cub sports were some of the most enjoyable times I have ever had competing in athletics. To all the younger readers, I would highly recommend playing a Cub sport when you can, because you might find you have a talent for a sport.