Sports Institute helping students improve mindset

Sophie James is a Grade 8 student at Alexandra Middle School. She likes sports and wanted to expand her athleticism and that’s why she enrolled in the school’s sports institute last year and has continued in it this year.

Last year, due to pandemic restrictions, the program was more limited and she is enjoying it more this year and plans to enrol again in Grade 9.

James plays volleyball and softball and says “I feel like I have a better mindset.”

“We talk about movement and then we do mental health as well. I have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset, so I feel like I put myself out there more and I’m not so shy.”

She says this translates when playing volleyball, to her not being as nervous and going for the ball more.

Makena Duncan is now in Grade 9 and will attend Hat High next year. She wanted to increase her ability as an athlete and have physical activity a part of each school day.

“I am able to set physical goals for myself and know what to do to be able to achieve them,” said Duncan. “It’s also helped with my mental health because I’m able to get into a mindset. Instead of telling myself to tap out, now I tell myself, no, let’s keep going to the end, I can do this.”

Each new goal she sets is slightly more difficult than the previous one. Duncan was also part of the program last year but has started to notice more changes.

“Last year we did workout circuits and focused on upper body strength. This year we are learning the fundamentals for any type of sport.”

Additionally, students are learning to use what they’ve been taught and keep that going over the summer when they have an extended break from school. The entire program becomes part of their day-to-day lifestyle rather than something they only do at school.

Quinn Cavan is also in Grade 9 and will attend Hat High next year. Big into football, Cavan has been thinking about how it will be to go back to being a rookie on the team next year. This is his first year with the sports institute, as he initially didn’t think he wanted to participate but when asked at the beginning of the current school year, he decided to try it out.

One part of the program that appealed to him was the chance to go to different fitness centres around the city and work with various trainers. He thought it would be a good experience to boost his athletic performance, as one of the trainers they work with has also coached the Tigers to improve their athletic performance.

Cavan’s position is outside linebacker and even though football starts on the first day of school and finishes in November, he noticed a difference in his game before the season ended. Two of the most noticeable differences were a better running position and a better stance.

Outside of school, Cavan finds he’s more energetic and remains active outside school hours.

“I definitely feel stronger,” said Cavan. “I go to the gym and still practice outside of school.”

Being able to apply the specific skills sets they learn in the sports institute to their sport of choice is beneficial for each of the students. Another part of the growth mindset is students are learning how to fail and receive feedback from teachers, peers and coaches.

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News