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Keeping Her in the Game

A child's involvement in athletics should be about learning the life lessons that come with participating in sports. 

A recent and disappointing statistic by the Women's Sports Foundation showed that by the age of 14, girls drop out of athletics at twice the rate of boys. At the same time, we know that the benefits of participating in athletics are significant, especially for young women.

"Our student athletes - at all levels - learn the life lessons of teamwork, leadership, and resilience that both complement and reinforce their well-rounded academic experience at Marlborough," said Sheila Pauley, Director of Athletic and Physical Education Department Head. "The longer they continue to participate, the more benefit they will see today and into their futures in college, career, and beyond."

In a community where over 60% of students participate in at least one team sport, Marlborough strives to provide the girls with every opportunity to continue doing what they love, which is why the school invited Dr. Dolly Klock '88, a Board Certified Family Medicine Physician and founder of ADOLESSONS, and Kirsten Jones, Hall of Fame Division 1 Volleyball player and Peak Performance Coach, to host a workshop for parents on the dos and don'ts of raising an athletic teen.

The Confidence Connection

"Athletics really builds confidence in girls," said Klock, who is also a Marlborough alumna and parent. "In every practice and game, they have to meet new challenges and develop new skills. And as they do that, they build resilience, learn to work as a team, and forge incredible friendships." 

Klock also spoke about the body changes that can sometimes lead to girls withdrawing from sports, and the importance of parents helping them through this time in their lives.

"When parents and their children can have open and honest conversations about changing bodies and puberty, it really goes a long way toward building trust and communication, not just about athletics, but about issues such as body image, sexuality, and substance use," said Klock.

Friends, Fun, and Fundamentals

As a former Division 1 volleyball player and a member of the 2018 class of The College of William and Mary's Hall of Fame, Kristen Jones knows firsthand the benefits and challenges that come with being a student athlete. As the parent of three student athletes herself, she also knows the important role that parents play in their children's success and happiness.

"Out of no ill will, of course, we parents often get over-involved in our kids' lives, which can, over time, erode their confidence and belief in their own abilities," said Jones.

Parents need to realize, says Jones, that less than 9% of high school athletes will play a sport in college - at any level, and less than 2% of college athletes will turn processional, so a child's involvement in athletics should be less about this trajectory and more about learning the life lessons that come with participating in sports. 

"Sports should be about friends, fun and fundamentals," says Jones. "The best athletes you know can tell you so many of their stories are more about what they learned when they lost than when thye won." 

 


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