By Ethan Ruh
The Middle School hallways always have an aroma of musky, prepubescent boys, possibly due to the physical activity the students participate in during physical education class. Every day, Collegiate Middle Schoolers have PE for a period of 55 minutes during the middle of the day. Students change into their white PE shirt and athletic shorts in the locker room and then hustle out to the Seal Center gym, where they have a few minutes to run around before class starts. Once all of the students are changed and ready, one of the five PE coaches will blow a whistle signaling the start of class.
Varsity wrestling coach and PE teacher Andy Stone said that “the fifth and sixth grade classes will all start out with a ten-minute group warm up.” This warm-up consists of bear crawls, lunges, squats, push-ups, and various other exercises. While the fifth and sixth graders warm up as a class, later splitting into smaller groups, “the seventh and eighth graders are each split up into four groups, and they do warm-ups with their small groups instead of the entire grade,” said Stone. “Each fifth grade class is split into three groups, but sixth, seventh, and eighth each are split into four groups. We used to only have three groups, but we wanted to lower the class sizes, so we added another group. Now the classes have around 17 kids,” said Stone. There are eight different PE classes, one for each gender in each grade. Fifth and sixth graders have class three times a week, and seventh and eighth graders have class four times a week. There are usually six PE classes taught each day, but each coach is assigned certain classes. For example, Coach Stone does not coach any classes of sixth or seventh grade girls.
The small groups have a rotation of activities that they cycle through during the week. Since some the Middle Schoolers are old enough to participate in Cub sports, the PE department wants to make sure that the students are exposed to the possible sport options offered at Collegiate. “In fifth and sixth grade, we do a sports unit that correlates with the Cub sports they can do. The girls will do a field hockey unit and a volleyball unit, but the guys will have a football and wrestling unit. They both have soccer and lacrosse units also,” said Stone. Charlie (‘25) said, “we have stations, sometimes we will go up to the wrestling room with Coach Stone and do fitness and sometimes play dodgeball. We play soccer with Coach Featherstone and basketball with Coach Coffey.” There are also PE units such as cricket, jump rope, and rugby.
As each year goes by, strength and mobility are emphasized more. “The seventh and eighth graders will go to the weight room every other day. When they aren’t in the weight room, they will either be in a games unit or they will be in the classroom for a health unit,” said Stone.
The PE coaches want to offer the students an opportunity to become better athletes and leaders, but they also want to try and make sure that the students enjoy PE class. “We try to give them a lot of variety so they aren’t doing the same thing every day,” said Stone. In the past, the PE coaches used to have the small groups do the same activity every day for a month, and then they would rotate to a different activity. Now, the small groups rotate every day so the students do not get bored of the unit they are participating in. Stone believes that most students enjoy PE because it can be fun and competitive, and it serves a break from other academic classes. “For the most part, it seems that they like what we are doing, I don’t get the sense that one [unit] is everybody’s favorite,” said Stone. When asked what their favorite part of PE has been this year, fifth graders Grayson and Asher both immediately said, “dodgeball.”
For Upper School seniors, the fondest memories of Middle School PE are typically about Cardiovascular Day, more commonly known as CV day. On CV day, PE students did not have the standard activities, but instead they were allowed to play a large game together. Games such as dodgeball, kickball, and Capture the Equipment, a variation on Capture the Flag, were frequently played. George White (‘18) remembers that he “didn’t like the weight room unit, but most other things were pretty fun. My favorite day was CV day, and my favorite was Concourt Chaos.” Concourt Chaos was a game where you had to run across the length of the gymnasium while trying to not get hit by dodgeballs. Similar to George, Kieran Cottrell (‘18) and Deven Pandya (‘20) both agree that Concourt Chaos was the best part of PE class. Caroline Hall (’18) reminisced about PE and said, “My favorite memory of Middle School was Capture the Equipment with the entire grade. I was really competitive and tried really hard, so I had so much fun.”
Sadly, CV day was taken out of the physical education curriculum after the current seniors left eighth grade. The PE coaches wanted to focus more on the scheduled activities and the development of strength and mobility. However, “the fifth and sixth graders will sometimes have a game day if the schedule is a little different,” said Stone. On the day I visited a class, the fifth grade boys played Capture the Equipment because electrical work was being done in the Seal Center. Even though there is no more CV day, Middle Schoolers still seem to enjoy the break from academics during PE class.
All photos by Ethan Ruh.