On the heels of a very good Homecoming week, our Athletic Director, Molly Hengst, Kevin Bruggink and I thought it would be a good time to share our perspective on our athletic programs. We often fear, given the competitive success of many of our programs, that a portion of our community will assume that winning is the primary measure of success within the athletic department. In truth, that is simply not the case because we hold far greater value for programs that we feel support the educational mission of our school and contribute to the growth of our students. We feel this occurs best in programs where the coaches have high expectations of their athletes in terms of focused execution, continually striving to learn and improve, being unselfish teammates, and developing a strong work ethic. We also feel programs that have coaches who run highly disciplined environments and demand that their athletes handle themselves with class and respect are the very programs that contribute most to our students growth as young people, students and athletes. Furthermore, our experiences have taught us that frequently one of the byproducts of these programs with the correct values and foundation is that these programs often have competitive success as well.
As teachers, coaches, and the school in general, we view athletics as an extension of the classroom. We really value solid programs that practice the right expectations with students because we see firsthand how the athletes in those programs do better in our classrooms when they are involved in those sports. We have commented before in this blog about how clearly we have seen this over the years with our wrestling program. Because of Steve Roger’s expectations and influence on his athletes, they are often better students and people during his season. The values of the wrestling program support the classroom and really bring considerable value to our school in that manner. This is also true of many of our other programs, and it would be safe to say that the model the wrestling program provides in terms of values is exactly what the athletic department and school desires from all of our athletic programs.
We are also very pleased to share that several of our faculty members have begun working with student leaders this year to form O-zone. This organization is designed to increase the energy and fun of our students at sporting events, but all in the context of sportsmanship and respect of others. As a school, we view Oostburg High School athletic events as far different from professional sporting events. If our programs and events are an extension of the classroom, it only makes sense to us to have expectations of our athletes and our student body to participate in the context of sportsmanship and respect. We want them to have tremendous energy, lots of fun, but also completely within the context of class and respect of all others—including opponents and officials. Those expectations, we believe, are the very foundation to our events and programs having educational value in our school. We are really excited about what our student leaders and faculty members are doing with O-zone to promote the right kind of student support for our teams.
Scott Greupink, Molly Hengst and Kevin Bruggink