Teaching Student Athletes: Why A Sport Is More Than A Sport

Student athletes in the Minnesota State High School League Valley Conference are taking part in a different kind of practice, learning how to apply the skills from their sports to school and beyond their athletic career.

Often the focus in high school sports is the score at the end, but it can be about a lot more.

Former high school coach Tom Cody said, “I think most coaches, most athletic directors, most kids just worry about how and what. Here’s what we’re going to do today, here’s how we’re going to do it, but we forget why. It’s called human development. We’re about human development here in the Valley Conference.”

About 150 students from 10 schools in the MSHSL Valley Conference gathered at Nicollet Public School to learn about why a sport or activity extends beyond the field or court and into the stands, classroom and the rest of life.

It’s the message of the League’s “Why We Play” conference series, which started in 2012 to look at the educational purpose of sports.

MSHSL Associate Director Jody Redman said, “We really have to define what the meaning of that is and really what we want our kids who are participating at the high school level to be getting from sport beyond just winning, losing because the reality is 97 percent of them will not go on and play beyond the high school level.”

“Why We Play” is a statewide initiative to help student athletes becomes leaders in their schools, with the speakers talking about building a positive culture in their student body and the conference.