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High school sports build character, leadership qualities in young people

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

Go Crusaders! 

That’s the cheer heard over the years in the stands and on the sidelines at Scecina athletic events since the school opened in 1953.

Sports have brought together the Scecina Community in sometimes fervent displays of school spirit and team pride. The school aims to educate "the whole person" in spirit, mind and body." So what are other reasons for high school athletics? How do they help young people on their life journeys?

Most people involved in athletics are adamant that high school sports universally contribute to character building and are especially critical during the often-tumultuous teen years.

“The ups and downs of a high school sports season, the wins and losses, build character, absolutely,” said Scecina Athletic Director Jason Kehrer ’88

“Anyone who went to the Semi-State games for our football and basketball teams this past year could have seen that,” Kehrer continued. “Our teams worked so hard and practiced with so much dedication to get that far, and then they dealt with the losses with class and dignity. You could tell they were disappointed when they lost, but they still handled it with class.”

Ellen Walsh ’02 played sports at Scecina and came back to coach the girls soccer team and the track team. She is convinced that sports are key to many aspects of character development.

“I just think sports do so much for health, good habits, time management and character,” she said. “They build confidence, they teach life skills, and they just give you the chance to be a kid and to play.”

Especially at a smaller school like Scecina, she said, every student has the opportunity to play some sport or be involved in another activity.

“At Scecina, everyone can find a team. That’s what I love about this school. I was playing basketball when I was a student, and I didn’t really like it that much. I decided to go out for soccer,” she said. “Not only did I make the team, but I made All-City in my first year playing.”

David Gandolph ’68, Crusaders head baseball coach and a member of the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame, was a three-sport athlete at Scecina.

“One of the things the athletes learn is time management, some better than others!” he said. “They also learn how to be teammates. In the work world now, there is usually a lot of teamwork. They get the feel for the team first and not ‘me,me,me,’ which in today’s world is an important thing.” 

“Education-based high school sports give us more than athletes we can root for; they give us leaders we can depend on,” says a public service announcement by the Indiana High School Athletic Assocation. “Taking the initiative, being a good teammate, sacrificing personal glory for the greater good. These are qualities we expect of our leaders, and they’re being cultivated in the high schools right here in Indiana.” 

Various studies over the years also have shown that: 

Athletics can prepare young people the same skills they will need to navigate the adult world, such as patience and perseverance. 

Athletics can be an avenue for young people to afford the cost of higher education. 

Team sports teach the valuable lessons of working together and getting along. 

Individual and team sports teach young people how to set and reach goals. 

Participating in athletics helps young people learn to budget their time. 

Students who participate in extracurricular activities such as sports are less likely to indulge in risky behaviors and are more likely to be health-conscious and take care of themselves. 

Some studies also show that playing high school sports is especially beneficial for girls, indicating they have better grades, graduate at higher rates and have more confidence, as well as lower rates of pregnancy, drug use, obesity and depression. 

Just like in the early years of Scecina, Crusaders sports continue to help develop students into stronger adults and also bring the community together. 

Go Crusaders! 

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