Middle School Athletics Showcase Nueva’s Philosophy
Record numbers of students joined winter basketball and soccer to play and learn by doing. Nueva’s K-8 Physical Education Teacher and Athletics Coordinator and two faculty coaches reflect on The Nueva Way in their successful 2019 season.
Nueva's fields and courts were busy this winter. What’s the story?
Alyssa Richards, Nueva’s K-8 Physical Education Teacher and Athletics Coordinator
“Participation was amazing for both the boys’ and the girls’ teams! And they came to play -- even though many teams had practices cancelled and games rescheduled by adverse weather and smoke from the northern California fires, they were determined.
We find a place for every student who wants to play, and this year we created a total of 18 winter basketball/soccer teams to meet their desire. As coordinator, I’m grateful for numerous faculty that come out and coach. Students connect with their teacher/coaches during the day, and at this young age, that’s so valuable in relationship building. This speaks to how we extend the classroom community and write the narrative of Nueva Athletics.”
What is the narrative of Nueva Athletics? What were the essential elements for your basketball teams?
Gary Kaplan, Middle School Humanities Teacher
"Nueva’s cornerstone social-emotional learning (SEL) philosophy runs through Nueva Athletics. Life lessons show up regularly, and at Nueva, we shine a light on these moments. We strive to instill a love of sports AND an understanding of the fairness of play. On the court, students expand their SEL skills: self-awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Sports have always been a big part of my life, and I admit that I always go in wanting to see our players win. However, at the same time that we are teaching them to shoot, we spend time on goal-setting, team-building, and strategic thinking. We wrap it all in reflection and appreciation for one another -- and all of this is more important than whether they win or lose.
At Nueva, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never played before, and on my teams it was really fun to watch the new players grow. They start to understand their own capabilities, experience competition, and to work together as a team. And they love representing their school. It’s just great!”
Some of these students are really young. What happens when the competition gets tough?
Eitan Tye, Eighth Grade Humanities Associate Teacher
"Yes, sometimes there’s intensity, when the competition builds in those neck-and-neck games. This is where Nueva’s culture shines through.
Ultimately, playing a team sport is about the importance of relationships. We challenge the players to think about how their actions on and off the court impact the team. In the same way, we teach them how to channel gametime emotions in ways that help the team. If they were upset about a call or previous play, they practice using their emotions to play even harder or smarter. They see the impact on the court, and these become life lessons that we hope will stay with them.
Building relationships is woven through my experience, too. Having the opportunity to both teach and coach eighth graders was wonderful because I really got to know my student-athletes. I was impressed with their level of commitment, felt their respect, and through this, we achieved something important together."
A Few Winter Highlights
The girls’ soccer program included 37 athletes, including many who had never played before. They formed two teams, one varsity and one JV, and the varsity team went undefeated!
Boys’ basketball broke participation records with eight teams, 79 students from fourth through eighth grade. There were three varsity, and five JV teams including our youngest team of (mostly) fourth graders who finished the season 6-1.
Girls’ basketball had a blast with 50 athletes fielding five teams. While many of the teams finished 50/50 on the season, the fun ran all the way to the games they played against each other, including the end of season, JV A team's Mother/Daughter celebratory game. Ask the girls who won!
Boys’ soccer grew this year as 52 players joined two varsity and one JV team. Coaches reported to Alyssa that they “felt supported by their athletes!” Students stepped up to leadership roles, and some students took notes when not playing. They used this in team meetings to give feedback on performance and to appreciate each other.