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Success in Sports

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“Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” – John Wooden, Hall of Fame basketball coach and sports philosopher.

Coach John Wooden won ten NCAA basketball championships and yet, he famously never urged his players to win. Instead, he focused on improving skills, cultivating teamwork and instilling a championship spirit in every practice and every game. He helped his players become the best they were capable of becoming.

In a way, Waldorf athletics follows the John Wooden philosophy of sports. In a youth sports culture dominated by a win-at-all-costs mantra, Waldorf recognizes that its student-athletes have embarked upon a journey of growth and development that supersedes wins and losses. Waldorf’s coaches seek to develop the whole athlete by valuing growth in individual skills, championing teamwork and emphasizing the joy of sport.

Winning is a byproduct of doing things the right way. A loss is, not a failure, but an opportunity to learn. Waldorf’s student-athletes meet victory and defeat with equanimity and grace—traits that will serve them well in the broader world, on and off the athletic field.

In fact, Waldorf’s approach to athletics fits within a broader movement to reclaim youth sports for what they once were and always should have been: fun, communal and participatory. There are no tryouts or cuts, even through high school. Instead, each athlete is inspired to reach their highest potential, contributing to the team through enthusiasm, hard work, grace, and resilience. Every athlete has their place on our teams.

An example of this broader movement is Norway- it has adopted the Children’s Rights in Sport charter which focuses on the “joy of sport for all” while forbidding excessive training and even scorekeeping before age 11. Norway’s charter simply states, “Children are engaged in sports because they enjoy it. Together with their friends they have experiences and learn lessons that will last them a lifetime. This is the foundation that all coaches, managers and parents must safeguard and develop further.”

Norway’s focus on fun, teamwork, and age-appropriate training has not held back its athletes. To the contrary, Norwegian athletes won a record 39 medals in the 2016 Olympic games. A youthful foundation focused on the “joy of sport” prepared many athletes to flourish later as adults.

Youth sports should not be adult-centered endeavors with an intense focus on winning at all costs. An emerging body of research suggests that, not only is the adultification of youth sports detrimental to young athletes’ happiness and well-being, but also may derail their long-term success—that is, their ability to become the best they are capable of becoming. Let them play, and enjoy the success along the way!

We are all enjoying the success of our undefeated high school boy’s varsity basketball team this season – let’s cheer them on as they continue in our 5280 League playoffs, then regionals and state! Congrats to the whole team and to the All-League Award Winners:
1st Team – Aly Sakho
2nd Team – Dylan Quinn
Honorable Mention – Wil McHenry
Coach of the Year – Michael Quinn
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