CALGARY —; Springbank High School is experimenting with a new sports program that focuses on building individual character rather than winning.
The Global Sport Academy is also designed to keep students active in athletics longer and help them succeed on the scoreboard and in classes too.
“This is a hockey program, we know that, but first and foremost this is a character education program,” said Jeff Ovens.
Global Sport coaches like Ovens are playing on students’ desire to succeed on the ice, to give them tools when the skates come off.
“(That means building) their passion for a specific sport and (using) it to teach life skills,” said Ovens. “Time management, organization and all those things at a young age, so that when the pressure ramps up at the university level or higher, that they’re going to be able to have the skills to be able to cope.”
Ben Sanderson going over his skating with a Global Sport coach. Global News
Ben Sanderson going over his skating with a Global Sport coach.
Understanding young athletes can keep them playing longer and learning more, since drop-out rates in youth sport is higher than ever.
“Seventy-five percent of youth drop out of organized sport and the (reality is) that in hockey, less than one percent ever make a dollar playing professionally,” said Ovens.
Global Sport Academy student Ben Sanderson, who is the son of former NHL player Geoff Sanderson, has learned what matters most when he hits the ice.
“Having fun is the most important part of hockey, whether you go to the NHL or beer league,” said Ben Sanderson.
Sanderson said taking the Global Sport option has also helped him to become a better leader, and it’s also an outlet get help with homework or advice about hockey.
“It really gives me a chance to work on my individual skill, something I might not get a chance to do in normal practice with my team (outside of school),” he said.
It’s something the program’s coaches believe in strongly.
“We’re all about the individual —; this is not a team program; we focus on building relationships and making sure that there’s a safe place to have conversations with our young student athletes if they’re struggling or if they need advice,” added Ovens.
Pam Davidson, Principal of Springbank Community High School, said the program helps kids move forward and be their best.
“It’s about their attitude, it’s about their aptitude and it’s helping them develop their skills,” said Davidson. “Being a person of character, being committed to their sport and being organized and dedicating yourself and time so that you can meet (your) goals, whether they’re athletic or academic,” said Davidson.
Danielle Macfarlane, whose son attends the Global Sport Academy, said she is happy to see her child focusing on school first.
She also appreciates the support he receives to dealing with the pressure that usually comes with being a student athlete.
‘It’s not about the ice time for our kids, it’s about the academics first, character and leadership and making the kid a whole person … Because going forth into any type of of post secondary education, they’re looking for more now than just marks,” said Macfarlane.