6 Ways Athletics Support Whole-Child Development

Participating in school sports strikes fear in the heart of some students, and keeps others walking through the door each day. Signing up for a team is an opportunity many families encourage their kids to try, and that many young athletes reference as one of their favorite memories in their school experience.

At Episcopal School of Knoxville, our athletic department offers a wide variety of sporting endeavors for students. Not only do some of our unique offerings, like bowling, attract many different types of students to participate, but they also make athletics approachable for students  who might otherwise be apprehensive. Beside providing opportunities for all types of students, the goals of our athletic program stretch beyond simply winning, to instilling a lifelong ethic of sportsmanship, teamwork, and hard work towards achieving personal goals. What, specifically, should you expect if your child decides to participate in ESK athletics?

6 Ways Athletics Support Whole-Child Development

  1. Our programs seek to instill in students a sense of school spirit

Students learn that when competing for their school, they wear a jersey with their school letters and colors, therefore representing the values of the school.  This call to a higher standard teaches kids to respect and appreciate the unique qualities of their school community. Learning to have pride in the school you represent, and demonstrating the values of our school to other players is a cornerstone of our program.

  1. ESK athletics creates a sense of camaraderie among teammates

At ESK, players encourage one another on the court and in the classroom. Coaches teach athletes to help one another improve skills. Players value the time they spend together at practice, traveling to matches, and cheering for one another. Making new friends, supporting teammates as they meet personal goals, and seeing one another succeed is a big part of what makes athletics important in a student’s overall development.
















3. Coaches strive for players to develop a positive, can-do attitude towards challenges

Each sport presents its own challenges to athletes. Cross country runners train to run faster than last week, volleyball players practice placing the ball correctly over and over for their teammates, bowlers approach the lane seeking to perfect their aim, dancers concentrate to land complicated jump sequences, and flag football players enter each play ready to read signaling from the quarterback. These tasks require practice, patience, and discipline. Coaches teach players to approach each new difficulty equipped with the proper technique and the willingness to try again when they don’t achieve the new skill the first time or even the 100th time. The grit players develop in sports at ESK will be a character quality that serves them over a lifetime of trial and error as they learn and develop skills needed for higher education and the workforce.

  1. Student athletes practice true sportsmanship

ESK student athletes understand that athletics aren’t all about winning; they’re about playing your best despite setbacks, trying again in the face of failure, and encouraging and applauding others’ excellence on the playing field. Athletes at ESK know how to win with a humble attitude, how to play with confidence and not cockiness, and how to lose graciously to an outstanding opponent.

  1. The ESK athletic program promotes girls’ self-esteem

This year, ESK fielded an all girls soccer team for the first time ever, and watching the team play inspires the spectator. Their coaches, Coach Wood and Coach Mirts, spend time with the girls on foot drills and passing instruction, but they also want the girls to gain self-confidence and a personal sense of security through building meaningful peer relationships with their teammates. The girls on the team visibly strive to build one another up on the field, shouting words of encouragement to those who are newer at the sport, and hugging and high-fiving after a well-earned goal. Through this opportunity to play together, coaches hope that the girls learn to support one another, and gain self-esteem from pushing themselves on the field both physically and mentally.

  1. For students to realize the value of movement throughout their lifetimes

While becoming competitive in a certain sport can take years of dedication on the part of an athlete, ESK hopes that students realize the benefits of physical activity. Our hope is that kids can feel the tangible benefits of movement, and that they’ll be committed to getting daily activity throughout their lifetimes so they can feel their best, even if they no longer compete seriously.


Athletics provide an important outlet for many students. In fact, 90% of our students will participate in at least one sport before they graduate from ESK. By emphasizing the character development inherent in sports, our school approaches athletics holistically, with the whole child in mind. As lower school cross country coach Tiffany Alden says, “We invite everyone to participate and encourage taking risks and stepping out of comfort zones. Effort, hard work, and sportsmanship are revered over winning in our programs.”  


If you would like more information about our Athletic Programs, please contact Margaret Googe (googe@esknoxville.org) or Marsha Brophy (brophy@esknoxville.org), co-athletic directors. See our athletics calendars here. If you would like more information about our school, please contact our Admissions Director, Mary Lovely (lovely@esknoxville.org). We’d love to tell you more about what makes ESK unique, both in athletics and in academics.