How effective sports coaches help students feel understood at school

Aly Carter graduated from high school 13 years ago, and what she remembers most distinctly about those years were her experiences on the playing fields. She ran cross-country and track, played soccer and threw herself into lacrosse, helping her school team make it to the state final in 2005. She barely remembers her high school teachers, as her classes and teachers rotated, preventing her from passing much time with any particular one. But she spent four years with several coaches and remains connected to some of them.

“I always became close with my coaches,” she said. “I learned my greatest life lessons in team and individual sports.”

Nearly 8 million teenagers played for their high school teams during the 2017-18 academic year, many of them occupying hours after school under the guidance of various head and assistant coaches. For many of these kids, their coaches reached them in ways their teachers couldn’t, and what they learned on the soccer field or basketball court has stuck in a way that a lecture on the French Revolution did not.


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