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When it comes to the two-season fitness requirement at Collegiate, there is a great deal of debate on whether this requirement is justified. Some people believe that it is an unfair expectation for people who are not interested in sports or are actively involved in other activities, such as a job outside of school or involvement in the theater program. However, others believe that the requirement is a great way to make new friends and have fun while also getting exercise. There are many ways that a Collegiate student can fulfill this requirement without actually participating on a junior varsity or varsity sports team. Instead of being part of a sports team, students can partake in fitness, after-school dance, yoga, Outdoor Collegiate, or the STAR tutoring and mentoring program. Students may also complete an athletic waiver for outside of school activities such as a travel sports team, exercise classes such as cycling or barre, or dance outside of school.
There are many reasons behind the fitness requirement. First, one of the major philosophies at Collegiate is the physical well-being of all of their students. The Upper School student handbook states that “this participation is intended to develop healthy habits of mind, heart and body, and knowledge that will promote a sound basis for a lifetime of fitness.” Collegiate no longer has physical education (P.E.) classes in the Upper School because, according to Head Co-Athletic Director Karen Doxey, it was not productive; nobody liked changing out every day for a half-hour long workout. Therefore, the school needed to come up with another way to make sure that their students were getting the exercise they need. “We want our students to be fit,” explained Doxey, and “it’s also good for relieving stress.” Doxey then went on to explain that fitness is an important aspect of life; knowing how to get a good workout is a key life skill. “There are so many avenues that you can go down,” she said, referring to all of the different fitness options that Collegiate offers. She explained that Collegiate’s programs such as fitness and after-school dance are only about an hour long, and that it is not challenging to complete these requirements.
Not only does the fitness requirement encourage students to be physically fit and healthy, it also promotes honor, sportsmanship, leadership, and respect. Varsity soccer player and swimmer Catherine Alexander (‘18) states that through Collegiate athletics, she has “learned how to make friends with people who are a different age and to connect with people who [she] otherwise would not have connected with through a common goal and a common passion.” Through the requirement, students are given the opportunity to befriend people who they would not have met otherwise, as well as learn skills such as sportsmanship and teamwork.
Despite the benefits of physical well-being and the various skills such as sportsmanship, teamwork and respect that come with the fitness requirement, some students dislike the requirement. “It’s unfair to people who would claim to be unathletic and want to focus more on their education rather than focus on being successful in sports,” says volleyball player and track athlete Kenya Minor (‘18). On the other hand, some people believe that the requirement has opened them up to new things that they would have never tried otherwise. For instance, Amy Kaplan (‘18) says, “While I wish that there wasn’t a sports requirement, without it, I would have never done STAR, which has been such a great experience for me.” Without the requirement, many students would have never thought of trying these new activities that they have grown passionate about.
Not only does the fitness requirement help keep students healthy and active, but it also builds friendship, camaraderie, and spirit at school. The requirement encourages students who would not normally participate in athletics to try out and take a shot. “This is [the students’] chance to be on a team,” explained Doxey. The opportunity may not come again for many of students, so it is important to take a chance and try something new. For instance, I would not have decided to play volleyball or track if it was not for this requirement, and these sports teams have been some of the most memorable highlights of my career here at Collegiate. Through these sports teams, I have been able to make new friends and memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.
Featured image courtesy of Collegiate School.