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Building a Sports Team, Fundamentally

Seventh grade is when our students first join a school athletic team. But if you haven’t been playing club sports since you were very young, is it too late, at the age of 12 or 13 to become an athlete?

Not at all: KPS coaches blend those discovering the game with veteran players in a way that makes the experience fun and challenging for everyone. Last spring, for example, Middle School softball drew 30 players. “For some reason,” says Coach Philip Wolstenholme, laughing, “they all wanted to play.”

The coach met the challenge by arranging practices so that veteran players led small groups, helping the newcomers build fundamental skills through practice. The setup, he says, “enabled everyone to get what she needed.

“The club players in eighth-grade work on their leadership skills, plus they’re getting their club-team practices during the week. And the seventh-graders get more hands-on training,” the coach says.

As the time for games approached, the coach divided the big group into game-ready and practice squads. “Softball’s a game where you make a mistake and you could get really hurt,” he says, so new players were introduced to game situations slowly. By the end of the season, everybody had played for Kent Place in at least one game.

This article is featured in the fall 2022 issue of Kent Place magazine.