Sports are just one aspect of education, says athletic director
June 25, 2009
By Mal Boright
In terms of wins and losses, the sports year at Champlain Valley Union High had some solid varsity sports seasons, and then some with campaigns of growth, even if they lacked big victory numbers.
Tyson-Jerome White (right) and Nathan Hall (left) of Champlain Valley Union High finish first and second in a heat of the 100-meter dash on May 13.
In terms of keeping with the school’s philosophy of the role of sports in the overall educational program, the year has been a good one, according to the man at the top.
“Our goals for athletics are to develop student interest and success in curricular and co-curricular programs,” CVU athletic director Kevin Riell said in a recent interview after school had closed for the summer.
“Sports are not just about wins and losses,” Riell added. “They are all about process and how to get students from A to Z and what did they learn. That is what CVU sports is all about.”
He agreed that victories and championships are nice, but there are also valuable lessons in seasons that have rare triumphs.
Riell just completed his 21st year as overseer of the athletic program. Prior to that, he had some coaching whistles in hand himself in basketball and soccer.
He was asked if today’s kids are different from those in the past.
“Life today is just more complicated for the students,” Riell replied. “They have so many more choices now.”
He noted that in years past athletes would participate in the three sports over the fall, winter and spring seasons.
“Now there is some pressure to specialize in one. Some say that is the way to go. Others would have them spread their wings and find various experiences.”
While Riell is enthusiastic about the number of athletic programs, varsity, junior varsity, freshman and club offerings, he also likes to mention the non-athletic, co-curricula choices available.
“Recently, one of our soccer players was injured early in the season and was looking for something else in which to participate. The individual auditioned for a part in a school musical and got the part,” Riell said. “He said later it was one of the best experiences he ever had.”
Riell said this confirmed for him the idea that having multiple choices available can lead students to develop interests in areas they had never considered.
CVU has an annual student body of between 1,350 and 1,400, with more than half participating in at least one athletic program. Riell considers that a good percentage of participation and notes it has grown over the years.
He said the recent school year was “tremendous for the student body. Goals were being met, sports were kept in perspective and the student council did a great job with the spring Rally in the Valley.”
Active club programs include longboat rowing, rugby and sailing. Riell said a growing activity in Vermont schools has been dance and that too could come to CVU if faculty advisors can be found.
He applauded the high level of community support for all CVU programs.
One of the fastest growing sports is lacrosse, where there were enough participants this spring to field three teams for both boys and girls.
A challenge this fall will be for the 80-strong football program under head coach Jim Provost, who will guide the four-year-old varsity level team through a rise from Division 3 to Division 2.