“Who can tell me what big event is happening on Sunday?” Physical Education teacher Jane Anne Randolph asked her Class 1 students as they sat in a circle on the floor of Gym 1. “The Super Bowl!” more than a few girls shouted in unison.
As fans around the country are gearing up for what promises to be a nail-biting contest between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, the P.E. Department decided this week would be an excellent time to introduce the fundamentals of football to these eager Lower School students.
After an energetic warm-up exercise, Ms. Randolph and her co-teacher Jeanne Allegra began the lesson by demonstrating how to throw a football, the spherical shape of which can pose some challenges.
Back and forth, Ms. Randolph and Ms. Allegra tossed the ball. “What happens to the ball in the air?” Ms. Allegra asked the group. One student described the motion as “spinning.”
“That’s called a spiral,” Ms. Randolph explained. “Today, we want to see if you can get your football to spiral.” Animated chatter filled the air as the teachers pulled over a mesh basket containing a pile of red-and-yellow foam footballs, scaled to fit small hands.
Before any throwing got underway, Ms. Randolph and Ms. Allegra demonstrated the proper hold, with fingers covering the row of black laces, and the most effective stance, which involved stepping the opposite foot forward before launching the ball. They then distributed the footballs and helped the students organize themselves in pairs facing one another.
With playful determination, the girls attempted to form spirals with their air-borne balls as the teachers circulated around, offering tips and encouragement.
“Nice spiral,” Ms. Allegra praised one student. “Don’t forget to step.”
“Almost,” she said to another. “We’ll work on it.”
After several minutes of practice, improvement showed. Many throwers eventually executed successful spirals, and a number of footballs were caught. As they pushed themselves to keep trying to throw and catch, the students clearly had fun. Their smiles and laughter said it all.
“What’s the name of the position that throws the ball?” Ms. Randolph asked after the students returned the footballs to the basket and found their spots in the circle. “The quarterback!” one excitedly shouted out.
“And what’s the name of the famous quarterback on the Patriots?” “Tom Brady!” two girls answered. Ms. Randolph made sure her students also knew the name of the Rams’ quarterback, Jared Goff.
Upstairs in Gym 6, another group of Class 1 students simultaneously worked on their throws under the guidance of P.E. teacher Alison Levy.
In future classes, the students will learn about other positions, the rules of touch football and simple running routes like “button hook,” “slant,” “down and out” and “down and in,” explained Ms. Levy. “Once the students understand the routes, we will allow them to develop their own plays in mini groups,” she added.
Finally, using an interactive whiteboard application called “Show Me,” the students will have the opportunity to draw their plays on their iPads. Ms. Levy plans to make a “digital handbook” of these plays as well as a video of the students in action.
Whether they tune in to Sunday’s Super Bowl or choose another activity, these Class 1 students are on their way to mastering basic football skills, while improving their confidence, coordination and resilience. Let the games begin!
Browse photos from the class below: