Student-athletes at Head-Royce School face stressful challenges balancing the demands of school and sports. As an initiative to improve student-athletes’ health and well being, Challenge Success Club members decided to host a student-led H block discussing the issues and struggles of being a student-athlete in November 2017.
H block is a new Upper School system the Challenge Success Club helped implement that replaced its problematic predecessor, Practicum. H block allows students to choose and explore a variety of activities outside the classroom during the last hour of Thursday afternoon. The Challenge Success H block was open to all high school students, but specifically designed for student-athletes. The goal was to determine the main challenges students face when balancing school and sports. In the same session, we also brainstormed potential solutions with administrators, counselors, teachers, students, and our school’s Athletic Director.
The November H block was an effective first step towards improving communication between faculty and students. It was a honest and open discussion where faculty, administrators, coaches, and students shared their concerns with the problems that student-athletes face at Head-Royce. Teachers and students agreed that missing class time, making up tests, game schedules, and missing practices were the main issues. Halfway through the H block students were able to anonymously express on index cards (see below) what they wish their parents, coaches, and teachers knew about the student-athlete experience at Head-Royce. Some of these statements, especially the ones to the parents, will be sent out to help the community understand the challenges students are facing. The last 20 minutes of the discussion were used to brainstorm potential solutions to the problems brought up earlier.
One immediate result was the creation of a Captains Council. All team captains will now meet every other week with the Athletic Director to continue this discussion. The school is also exploring the idea of shortening practice on known homework-heavy weeks. The main conclusion from this discussion was that communication between teachers, coaches, and students is essential to a happy, healthy student-athlete. The Challenge Success Club will continue to deliberate long and short-term solutions with faculty to improve the balance between school and athletics.
Conrad Chipman and Ellie Rosen are sophomores at Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA and members of the Challenge Success Club. Head-Royce School is a Challenge Success partner school.