Inside Calvert Athletics: The Benefits of Youth Sports and Teaching Responsibility

At Calvert School, we are proud of the high-quality education we provide for students within the classroom, but we recognize that childhood development does not begin and end at the schoolhouse door.
On the playground and outside of class, boys and girls build relationships, learn vital social skills, and develop traits and mannerisms that they will carry for the rest of their lives. These formative years are crucial for teaching responsibility and leadership at a time when students are biologically craving such experiences.
For these reasons and more, Calvert School prides itself on offering a dynamic mix of middle school and elementary sports that instill responsibility, teamwork, and sportsmanship in every student at every age.

The Benefits of Playing Sports

According to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition (PCSFN), participating in youth sports programs is associated with improved teamwork, social skills, and social responsibility and greater leadership qualities. Sports for youth have also been linked to lower rates of anxiety and depression, lower amounts of stress, and higher self-esteem, among other positive effects.
In one study, published in the peer-reviewed Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, researchers found that student athletes scored “significantly higher” than students who did not participate in sports in areas including:
  • Transformational leadership
  • Attitudes toward oneself and others
  • Management of feelings (including motivating others)
In addition, sports for youth have also been tied to improved memory and thinking skills, which may result in improved academic performance.
At Calvert, we see the benefits of playing sports every day in our Lower and Middle schools.

Teaching Responsibility Through Fair Play

In the Lower School, our youngest students are introduced to sportsmanship and fair play through daily physical education classes and elementary sports. Starting in Ninth Age, the boys and girls divide into four grade-level teams – Hoppers, Crickets, Crows and Canaries – for internal competitions and annual flag football games.
From this early age, students learn what it’s like to function as part of a team and work with their peers toward a common goal – and they humbly accept victory or defeat with handshakes and high-fives with their opponents after every game. Years later, many of our alumni fondly – and clearly – remember racing up and down Brown Field with their teammates, and old bonds quickly resurface as games are rehashed and debated decades after they were played.
First, though, today’s students transition from the Lower School to the Middle School, where our youth sports programs transform into intramural and interscholastic offerings that instill greater responsibility in every student.
In the Middle School, students have the opportunity to play a dozen interscholastic sports, including football, squash, and lacrosse, across three seasons – and at Calvert, no child is turned away or left sitting on the bleachers.
Instead, all students are invited to embrace the responsibility of supporting a team. As in the Lower School, the benefits of playing sports are clear, and the program continues to be wildly popular with students, with more than 75 percent participating in at least one sport.
Regardless of age, sport, or team, every athlete is responsible for attending regular practices and maintaining their equipment and uniform. One of Calvert’s most acclaimed programs, the Middle School squash team, requires especially firm dedication and focus, as practices are held off campus at 6:30 A.M.
Despite the early-morning “challenge” of these practices, Calvert’s squash players are often the School’s most enthusiastic and reliable athletes, and teachers and administrators agree: It’s the perfect sport for a Calvert student.
After every match, opponents shake hands and congratulate each other on a game well played, and each player holds his or her head high regardless of the game’s outcome. Students are taught that sportsmanship is just as important as strategy, and they model these sports life lessons in all aspects of their lives.
It’s an important aspect of the Calvert Way – and for more than a decade now, the responsibility and leadership taught on the squash court has contributed to well-rounded students, bright futures, and top-notch appearances at the Middle School National Championships.
“The way that Calvert children are raised through the Calvert Way just makes students think a little bit more critically and a little deeper and quicker. They really excel at the game,” Head Coach Mary Alice Lears said. “The kids become better sports in life because that’s what they’ve learned on the courts.”

Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.