Growing up, some of my favorite childhood and school memories are from sports – from playing peewee soccer all the way to Varsity teams in high school. As I’m sure is true for many of us, the skills learned during those practices and games have translated to life beyond the field or court.
At Playworks partner schools, full-time coaches facilitate a sports league that occurs once per week after school. This year in Chicago, coaches have the opportunity to pick which sports they think will best suit their students. They also determine which grade levels to include each month on a rotational basis.
Most coaches kicked off the school year with a kickball league, transitioning into dodgeball for the winter months and saving sports like soccer for the warm weather come spring. Coaches have been able to get creative and really collaborate with their school communities to lead exciting, engaging leagues that are appealing to all sorts of students! Coach Zandry at Namaste Charter School in McKinley Park held a 2nd grade badminton league in January, which was an awesome success.
“I was surprised by how engaged the students were at such a young age! The first week was “Wait…what’s badminton again?” and by the last week, “What?! This is the last week we get to play badminton?” -Coach Zandry
Due to the large amount of interest, this month at Crown Community Academy of Fine Arts in North Lawndale, Coach Lex is offering a boys’ basketball league for Grades 2-5 after offering a girls’ league in January. Here are a few words from her league players:
“I’m excited to practice shooting and play a full game! I joined because I want to practice basketball. This is my first time in a basketball league.” -Darqwon, 5th Grade
“Michael Jordan is my favorite player, but I like the Golden State Warriors. I also really like that we stretch at the start of league practice!” – Jerome, 2nd Grade
What are the league rules?
1. Respect the Game! Whatever the league, we come together to focus on teamwork and skill-building. In practicing and refining particular skills as a community, students come to have a stronger understanding and appreciation for the game being played.
2. Play Hard! Regardless of differences in skill level or experience, everyone is encouraged to play to the best of their abilities. We urge students to give it their all, no matter the outcome of the game.
3. Have Fun! Being a non-competitive sports league, we say it’s “fun versus fun!” This means that having fun is the ultimate goal and that all participants are there to support and celebrate each other no matter what. At a Playworks league, you can expect to see lots of high fives and hear lots of cheers and “good job, nice try’s!”
By emphasizing skill development and positive team experiences over competition, our leagues foster a healthy and inclusive sports environment that is accessible to all students. This helps coaches reinforce Playworks’ core values: respect, inclusion, healthy play and healthy community both on and off the field. And the best part? It’s always a ton of fun!