April 12, 2018
by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School
MPA was founded on the conviction that a balance between academics, the arts, and athletics is an important part of a whole-child education and leads to success in school and in life. The balance is maintained in a number of ways, including a commitment to physical education in the curriculum and offering a robust athletic program. The key to balancing academics, the arts, and athletics is teachers, coaches, and directors who encourage students to participate in a variety of clubs, activities, and sports, and do not make it difficult for them to do so.
At MPA, we encourage students to play a variety of sports. With a no-cut policy, students have the opportunity to try different sports and learn new skills. Multi-sport participation is important at MPA and we take every opportunity to promote its value. Each sport challenges athletes in different ways and skills developed in one sport may help them in other sports. The exposure to different coaches, teaching methods, and teammates may increase their mental toughness, appreciation, and humility, which is helpful in the overall development of the athlete. Having choices helps students learn what they enjoy, and they may discover a love for a sport they had not previously considered.
The rise of specialization–when a student focuses on only one sport–is troubling and impacts the overall strength of a school’s athletic program and the physical well-being of athletes. Specialization is driven in part by the belief that it is the best path to earn a college scholarship. In reality, only four percent of athletes actually earn an athletic scholarship for college. Some in the medical field also believe that the increasing number of sports-related injuries can be tied to specialization. High school athletes who specialize in a single sport are 70 percent more likely to suffer an injury during their season than those who play multiple sports, according to a study released last year commissioned by the National Federation of High School Associations.
Specialization also has a negative effect on the number of students participating in the athletic program and can make it difficult to field teams. This is true at MPA, but also true at larger schools in our conference such as Blake and Breck. In order to continue to provide a variety of sports, cooperative agreements have become more commonplace. Cooperative agreements are established when two or more schools join together to form a team when it is difficult for a school to field a team on its own. Within our athletic conference of six schools, more than 20 cooperative agreements are in place in sports such as hockey, football, track, Nordic and alpine skiing, and tennis. Currently, MPA has two cooperative agreements in place. We share a football team with St. Croix Prep and New Life Academy and a boys tennis team with Nova Classical Academy.
Mounds Park Academy strongly believes that athletics complement the academic experience, provide balance to our students’ lives, and foster school spirit. We continue to be committed to offering a broad array of athletic offerings and will establish cooperative agreements when it benefits our students and meets our standards and values. Athletics at MPA encourage students to participate, engage, and dream big. Through this, student athletes develop commitment, character, perseverance, initiative, leadership, and teamwork.