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Life Lessons Through Sport

Chris Ivey / Insights

As I step away from the energy that surrounds a final, I know that getting involved in sport is ultimately an opportunity for our students to learn about and build their personal capacity.

28 October 2022

About 13 years ago, a few members of staff including Brad Bowen and Jane Cooksley entered the Kokoda Challenge, in those years it was a 48km run/walk through the Gold Coast hinterland, mimicking the actual Kokoda track with the terrain, one adult and four students, and the brief was that you must finish together as a team. The race started later in the day so that the last few exhausting hours were in the pitch dark with only teamwork and a head torch to light the way.

I naively put my hand up to support this new St Andrew’s initiative and on the first training session, managed to run from the College to Coles non-stop! I was in a team with four year 11 students, all of whom still share the trailblazing experiences we all went through when we have met up in subsequent years at College reunions. It was tough! As the weeks and months went on and our training distances increased, I gradually developed a love for running which has stayed with me. I now run almost every morning. I have subsequently trained and run with six Kokoda teams and whilst they are only small teams of four students with one staff member, the principles of team sport are the same. We train together, we look out for each other, we push ourselves as a team, we sometimes fail, but ultimately we grow through the experience.

This week, in our week of sporting celebration I am once again reminded of the value of getting involved in sport. We have celebrated our students, but also the incredibly important role that sport plays. As Australians, we are huge supporters of sport, the teams, the players, the losses and the wins, and the off field shenanigans; but as teachers who have the privilege of guiding our next generations of Australians, we know that sport is so much more than this, it is a precursor to what students will experience in life. Parents will know that my mantra is, get involved because that is how you learn about yourself…be it sport, creative arts, service learning. As a competitive person, I know I can be a little too focused during our finals, as I watch our students compete against other local schools. But as I step away from the energy that surrounds a final, I know that getting involved in sport is ultimately an opportunity for our students to learn about and build their personal capacity.

Sport can provide so many opportunities to learn about life:

  • How to work with others. At St Andrew’s our teams are made up of students with differing abilities and learning how to manage this and to deal with both the strengths and weaknesses of others is an important skill for life.
  • How to deal with disappointment. Not being picked for the team, not getting as much time on the field/court, not winning, not being able to give as much as you thought you had are all real and shared experiences in sport. Hearing this week about the challenges that our guest speakers both Glenn McGrath and Lani Pallister faced in their pursuit of sporting excellence are great reminders that sport is an excellent leveller. Children need to experience genuine disappointment and we need to allow this to happen, sport is a great teacher in this regard. Although the temptation is so often to step in and make it right, to take away the emotion is to take away an important learning opportunity.
  • How to set a goal. Setting an intrinsic goal of a personal best, no matter how big or small is so important. The idea of setting a goal and working toward this slowly, step by step and week by week is a skill that we can take into our everyday, sport is a great way to do this.
  • How to stay fit, active and healthy. Our young people need to learn how amazing their body is, how to take it too far and feel exhaustion, how to care for it, how it recovers and heals, and how they can train it to be strong, or flexible, or to push through when their brain says that it’s had enough. At the end of the day, physical activity is simply good for us all!

I love my morning run, and often feel grateful that it was an opportunity here at St Andrew’s which provided the impetus to develop this habit. I was a student who avoided sport at school, the culture was one which encouraged the students who were ‘good’ at sport, and left no other openings for enjoyment and inclusivity. St Andrew’s has built an incredible sport culture of both performance and participation. We encourage students to aim high, to work hard and to achieve incredible things but most importantly with many varied choices to participate, get involved, support each other, have fun, to stay fit and enjoy being active.

On behalf of our community, I want to thank every member of staff and our parents who contribute to these opportunities for our students. As we focus on building the Personal Capacity in each and every student, we know that sport is an important part of this.

Author Profile

Chris Ivey

In his own words, Chris “enables things to happen” at St Andrew’s. As Principal of the College, he leads the development and progression of St Andrew’s by enabling staff and students to achieve their personal best. Chris is a Reverend and has been the Principal of St Andrew’s for more that 15 years. He also represents and advocates for Independent schools across Australia as the National Chair of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Australia).

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