Athletics Reimagined

During these unprecedented times, athletic activities at all levels have proven to be a difficult feat across the world. From professional leagues to high school level to little league, all have had to reimagine the traditional nature of athletics and physical education.

This, of course, is also true at Chapin, but the Athletic department has stepped up to the plate. Since the spring, the team has put immense effort into creating innovative and fun activities for students and athletes alike.

Despite traditional competitive seasons being cancelled for the fall and winter, athletics and physical education hasn't stopped at Chapin. “Since we can’t have [traditional] teams, we had to think about what we could offer and when,” said Michelle Caywood, Director of Athletics.

At the start of the school year, Middle School students had the opportunity to participate in an after-school workout program at Asphalt Green; Upper School sports teams held outdoor, physically distanced practices; and P.E. classes across grades were held outdoors and incorporated fitness, wellness and lots of fun!

Students who opted for fully remote learning were also able to engage with the Phys Ed team through Zoom sessions dedicated to team-specific skills, strategy, mental and holistic training.

The new winter program, which commenced on November 30, offers Urban Hiking, Basketball, Badminton and Outdoor Run Club. During remote weeks, students participate in a virtual 5K, CPR/First Aid Zoom sessions and a new course called Boxing and Breathwork.

Additionally, Chapin’s Captain’s Council, which encompasses captains of all seasonal sports teams, will come together to brainstorm ways to keep teams connected and maintain excitement for their sport. The Council, in its second year, gives students a unique opportunity to build leadership skills while fostering cross-divisional relationships.

“The goal is for teams to bond,” said Ms. Caywood. “They work out on Zoom and play Kahoot. They keep the love of sport going and keep up the comradery.”

Ms. Caywood emphasized that Chapin’s athletic program will only continue to grow once the new spaces (which include a regulation-size gym, indoor track, fitness room, and trainer’s room) are complete.

The 3 floors that are scheduled to open in January 2021 will only allow for more opportunities for physically distanced space to play and train. The team will be able to incorporate functional training (such as Yoga and Pilates) which allows your body to create resistance and enhance your strength without weights.

“Chapin emphasizes educating the whole child and we can’t do this without athletics,” Ms. Caywood said, noting Chapin’s mission to support each student’s social, emotion and physical well-being. “We will now be able to provide even better experiences for younger students to train properly in basic skills. Everything has to be enjoyable and we engrain that starting in Lower School,” she continued.

This year, Phys Ed/Athletics partnered with Sarah Cyr-Mutty (K-12 Health Educator) and Dr. Elana Dumont (School Psychologist) in counseling services, so that students now have an additional outlet for reflection in P.E. Since students already work on wellness journals in Advisory, they collaborated to create a P.E. component. These journals will be kept from Middle School through graduation.

“Chapin students are always having fun – despite challenges,” Ms. Caywood shared, underscoring that these new spaces will enable us to continue building community.

One Class 12 student said, “I’m really excited that we will have a new space to host our athletic events. I really like how the gym is spacious, has a track and can serve as a multi-purpose space.”

A Class 11 student shared, “Although I am not a star athlete, I cannot wait to cheer on my friends who are [playing] in the new gym. Hopefully, with this new running track and beautiful view, I will be more motivated to get active!”

Keeping athletics going “matters a lot to families, as well,” said Ms. Caywood. “We have a lot of challenges but we can’t have a world without sports.”

While things may look different and new this year, the department has only built upon their robust curriculum. Each member continuously proves their resiliency, adaptability and creativity and we look forward to all they will accomplish in the new year and beyond.