As Harrisburg Academy’s director of athletics, I think the beginning of the academic year is the perfect time to review our program goals in the context of Harrisburg Academy’s identifying differentiators — a commitment to character building with students, providing a dynamic educational experience, and driving strong student outcomes.  Many families are new to the school, and even those families returning might find it useful to understand how these three program goals impact our coaching philosophies and structure.

Build Character — To acquire and enhance skills of leadership, responsibility, discipline, time management, perseverance, honesty, and fairness: qualities that are necessary in pursuit of success.

I believe that each student meets this challenge head on in competition at practice and game situations.  We often learn through our toughest losses, and our resilience to return and practice harder is what determines our mental strength and enhances our growth.

Provide a Dynamic Experience — To develop lifetime friendships while playing on a team and developing a deep appreciation for a sport.  In addition to classroom learning, we believe students learn valuable lifetime skills that challenge them to grow intellectually and emotionally while playing on a team.  Through the athletics journey, students learn to collaborate with their coach and teammates, experience the thrill of victories, and accept defeat with grace and humility.

According to 2011 Harrisburg Academy Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Alexis Dissinger ’00, “Playing field hockey, basketball, softball, and attending Harrisburg Academy were wonderful opportunities.  I learned the value of a good education, hard work, dedication, leadership, perseverance and teamwork.  Playing sports at Harrisburg Academy has given me the skills to achieve my goals and to be successful.”

Demonstrate Strong Outcomes — To compete at the highest level of competition through team and individual sports to reach personal achievement not previously acquired. Through competition, student-athletes gain the confidence and skills required to compete at a higher level if desired.  In addition, experience through participation allows student-athletes to develop and appreciate a love for lifetime fitness through adulthood.

“My time at Harrisburg Academy taught me to aspire to, focus on, and work towards excellence in the classroom and on the sports field,” said 2014 Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Blair Trogner, Jr. ’93.  “I owe the amazing teachers and coaches a great debt of gratitude.  I am a much better man for knowing them all.”

Playing high school sports is a valuable experience.  We often hear our graduates describe how athletics played an important role in helping them develop skills that later shaped their lives.  I continue to believe that sports are an extension of what we learn in the classroom — and the value is not always in the wins and losses, but in a student’s development.

Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.