How Athletics Build Community

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There is an unmistakable feeling of unity at any high school athletic event. In many ways, high school athletic programs act as an extension of the classroom, providing enriching experiences for everyone involved. Like a classroom, athletics offer a welcoming space where people from varied circumstances and all sorts of backgrounds can come together and form a supportive community. Made up of our diverse and dynamic students, staff, and teachers, the athletic program at Gateway High School enhances the experience for all, whether they’re playing on the field, cheering in the stands, or simply feeling a sense of pride to be an Olympian. 

In addition to generating pride, early research studies suggest that athletic programs help to foster a collective identity for both participants and members of the community. This shared sense of belonging facilitates the development of self-confidence and the capacity for empathy – two integral factors in building strong relationships with others. As a result, communities are strengthened by this solidarity and grow more unified than ever. Within sports teams, this collective identity is a driving force for players persisting through adversity, supporting their teammates, and acting as mentors to younger players. 

Coaches also act as mentors, leading by example for the rest of the team. In creating an environment that both challenges and rewards players for their effort, coaches encourage players to maintain a growth mindset. Doing so, their relationship with players offers a broader perspective, even beyond sports. Often, coaches play an active role in modeling healthy lifestyles, supporting classroom instruction and exploring postsecondary opportunities. Not only do coaches help student athletes improve their game on the field, but also they also guide them to reach their highest potential in life, too.

The transformative experience of participating in high school athletic programs also comes with an opportunity to serve the community as an ambassador. As a representative for their sports team and their school, everyone that participates in athletic programs is automatically a role model in the community. The responsibilities of student athletes – overcoming adversity, identifying and resolving problems, and working with others – have the potential to make an important and positive impact on those around them. This leadership experience will be useful long after graduation, and will undoubtedly lead student athletes to postsecondary success. Ultimately, high school athletic programs have the potential to encourage everyone to strive to be the best they can. 

At Gateway High School, achievement and participation as a community is at the center of our athletic programs, and results in teaching and learning experiences on and off the field. Camaraderie and a mutual commitment to each other’s progress and wellbeing fuels both our collective identity and our success. We are proud to not only educate the next generation of leaders, but also offer a sense of unity when our country needs it most. 

Learn more about athletics at Gateway here.