Athletics at King

Dear King Community,

Taking part in athletics at King provides numerous benefits to our athletes, including learning about accountability, dedication, teamwork, responsibility, and perseverance, while helping to develop leadership, communication, resiliency, and goal-setting skills. Physical exercise is also good for the mind, body, and spirit, with participants experiencing enhanced levels of self-control, confidence, and social-emotional development, along with reduced stress. At King, we also value the ideals of sportsmanship, strength of character, valuing differences, citizenship, winning and losing with class, and respect: respect for oneself, respect for teammates and coaches, respect for opponents and officials, and respect for the sports we play.

As we continue to enhance the overall King Athletics program, we are examining what it means to strive to achieve personal best along with defining what excellence should look and feel like for our teams and athletes. We will also continue to: foster a greater connectivity between the classroom and sports experiences of our students; streamline our Grades 7-12 program model; develop best practices around coach communications with athletes and parents; enhance external Department outreach and social media presence; and explore how the most positive, rewarding, and inclusive team cultures can be put into place.

Students in the Upper School Leadership Program, in conjunction with the Athletic Department, are leading some of this important work. These students will be the first to graduate this Spring with a Leadership Distinction. These efforts include: the growth of the Captain’s Council to include more regular meetings and to provide a forum and voice for our student-athlete leaders; the development of a set of King Captain Characteristics (the 6 C’s: Commitment, Confidence, Composure, Character, Competence, and Culture); and clarifications and recommendations around the selection process for King captains. Grade 11 students in the Leadership Program have also instituted a Spirit Challenge competition among the Upper School grade levels to help increase school spirit and attendance at Athletics events.

King student-athletes also support their communities through service learning opportunities and are encouraged to expand their understanding of different cultures and the larger world through global travel programs. As examples, our Boys & Girls Soccer teams, in managing the annual King Cares 5K, and our Girls & Boys Lacrosse teams, in running the annual Harlem Lacrosse Clinic, have done outstanding work over the years supporting organizations such as Orphaned Starfish Foundation (OSF), the Stamford Boys and Girls Club, and Harlem Lacrosse. This year, in partnership with the Global Education and King Cares Service programs, members of the Varsity Boys Soccer team participated in a service trip to visit one of the OSF orphanages in Colombia. In the spirit of our virtues and leadership efforts, the trip provided the King athletes with the transformative chance to work, play, teach, and form relationships with students at the orphanage. Building on the success of this trip, and to provide even more opportunities for our athletes, new programs are being developed, including an interdisciplinary trip to China in 2019, open to members of King’s basketball teams along with Global Education and Mandarin language students.

To provide the necessary support and foundation for our student-athletes and all of our coaches as we undertake this vital work, professional growth and development programming and opportunities are being enhanced. Over the coming years, workshops will cover leadership and character development, goal setting, diversity awareness, positive sports culture and culture building, emotional intelligence, responsibility and decision-making, citizenship, sportsmanship, and many other important areas. Kicking off these workshops, King hosted the “What It Takes” Youth & High School Sports Community Symposium. The keynote speaker, renowned mindfulness practitioner George Mumford, authored “The Mindful Athlete.” Plus, Mr. Mumford worked with all of the King coaches and presented to the entire Upper School as well as a select group of our student-athlete leaders in Grades 8-12.

As we shape these foundations of leadership, communication, accountability, school spirit, positive culture building, character, and citizenship, and build upon the strong aspects of the program already in place, this will greatly enhance the student-athlete experience at King and increase the production levels, effort, focus, and the overall competitiveness of our teams.

Micah Hauben, Dean of Athletics