Athletics help students develop grit, which is the ability to persevere in the face of challenge, to focus on a goal, and to not give-up. Superintendent Weatherall Neal spoke about grit with a community of supporters:
“Sports teach our kids grit. They need that. We all need that. It is how we succeed in life.”
One year ago, SAF launched GR8 Sports, Great Kids during a press conference at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy. February 14 marked year one of this amazing program, which celebrates the grit of our students, coaches and volunteers. SAF held a community breakfast to recognize this amazing accomplishment and we did this by looking back and forward on this visionary program that has changed the way students participate in sports at GRPS.
Looking back, GR8 Sports Director Cara Jones shared that over 68% of school districts in the OK White conference have implemented “pay to play” initiatives. Pay to play means that students need to pay a participation fee to participate in school athletics- this cost comes before students buy shoes and equipment. In GRPS, “pay to play” is simply not an option. The vision of GR8 Sports, Great Kids is to ensure that cost is never a barrier for our students to participate in sports.
Thanks to the community, GR8 Sports, Great Kids is realizing that vision. This past school year, over 5,400 students participated in after-school sports. Participation by girls almost doubled in volleyball and cheer. The students participating in sports have stronger grades and better attendance. In fact, at Burton Middle School alone, the average GPA of student athletes is a 3.2 versus 2.6 for non-athletes. AND all sports were offered to students at no cost to the students or their families! During the breakfast, two-sport athlete and seventh grader Alana shared:
“Thanks to sports, I have self- confidence. It’s not always about winning, it’s getting out with my friends and playing the game.”
The future is bright for our students and for GR8 Sports, Great Kids. First, the GR8 Girls have launched the 2017 Challenge: each month supporters are invited to try out a new health and fitness experience, with the class registration fees donated to GR8 Sports to support girls’ athletics. (On March 4, join us at Orange Theory for our next GR8 Girls Challenge!) Interested in participating? Learn more HERE!
GR8 Sports is also pursuing a new partnership that will offer a new middle school sport in Spring 2018. This sport will be a first for GRPS and for middle schools statewide. As a community, we are providing more opportunities for all children!
Athletics is about grit. To more than survive, to persevere, and to thrive.