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What it means to be a champion

Submitted by jreid on

Competitive sports are alive and well in the Junior School after a two-year hiatus. Now that our fall season is at an end, it is clear that our philosophy of hard work, skill development and fair play has paid off and I am thrilled to report that two of our teams – Under-12 and Under-14 soccer – were deemed champions within the Conference of Independent School Athletic Associations (CISAA); Under-14 basketball has their finals tomorrow!

On Tuesday, November 1st, our Under-14 soccer team won at home against St. Andrew’s College with a score of 4-1. This win earned the team the honour of CISAA champions, having finished the season with no losses. Last week, our Under-12 soccer team came home with the Champions of Character pennant. While no scores are recorded for the U-12 division, as the games are friendly matches, our Junior School team was chosen as the team that showed the most respect, kindness, honesty, fairness and improvement. Both teams were crowned champions and yet the criteria for those designations were different – one was based on a quantity (of goals!) and the other on qualities (of character!).

So, what does it mean to be a champion? Does it mean scoring the most goals or being the nicest player? Is the character of a champion better than the talent? In connecting everything we do to our mission statement, I would say it is character that defines a champion, and here’s why:

According to Dr. Jerry Lynch, a sport psychologist and author, “Champions share many characteristics, none of which are determined by their talents.” He goes on to say, that a champion:

  • has the courage to risk failure, knowing that setbacks are lessons to learn from.
  • uses an event to gain greater self-knowledge as well as feedback on physical improvement.
  • trains their thought processes as well as their body to produce a total approach to performance.
  • understands their athletic weaknesses and trains to strengthen them.
  • actively creates a life of balance, moderation and simplicity – values that help improve sport and life.
  • views competitors as partners who provide challenge and the chance to improve.
  • understands performances are like a roller coaster, with many ups and downs, and that you have to accept both the good and the bad.
  • enjoys sport for the simple pleasures it provides.
  • has vision. A champion dreams of things that haven’t been and believes they are possible. A champion says I can.                                                                         

Notice that none of these characteristics of a champion are sport-specific – courage is not limited to hockey; training is not solely for football. I would even argue that these characteristics are not even intrinsic to sport – they can be characteristics that our students employ in the arts and even in the classroom. If one moves into sport, the arts or the classroom with the intent to strengthen these characteristics, there is no limit to the accomplishments achieved or the championships won. We can all be champions in our own right.

Congratulations to our teams for their strength in character that helped pave the way for such wonderful sport successes. You have made us all proud!