How Athletics Advance Providence’s Vision for a Classical, Christian Community which Equips Students for a Life of Wisdom, Virtue, and Eloquence

Providence_ATHLETICS-02At Providence our athletic program seeks to be guided by the same three core aspects that guide our school as a whole: we want to be both Christian and classical while cultivating rich community.

Where We Are

Providence currently offers three different sports for upper school students. In the fall we offer girls volleyball as well as boys and girls cross country, while in the winter we offer boys and girls basketball. Grammar school students have the opportunity to participate in cross country as well as junior varsity boys and girls basketball. Each program is led by volunteer coaching staffs made up of parents and teachers and is funded by a few annual fundraisers.

Christian

Everything we do, including athletics, we do coram deo—in the presence of God. Athletics are a Christian activity even before we add a pre-game prayer or post-practice devotional, because they are a way for us to glorify God, not only in our conduct, but also in our pursuit of athletic excellence (1 Cor. 10:31). As we use the bodies that God has given us to excel in competition, we bring glory to the one who created them.

In an effort to acknowledge God’s presence even in athletics and to help students apply the truths and virtues studied in the classroom to all of life, we incorporate prayer and lessons which connect aspects of athletics to the truths of Scripture. The apostle Paul himself appealed to athletics to demonstrate the nature of Christian discipleship, and we want students to see athletics as a part of their own discipleship (1 Cor. 9:24-26).

Classical

As a classical school, we are committed to viewing students as whole persons: mind, body, and soul. With this holistic perspective, we value teaching and training each of these aspects of the person, recognizing that the human body is an inseparable psycho-somatic union. Just as any training of the mind has an effect on the body and soul, so also training of the body has an effect on the mind and soul. We believe that the lessons students learn in the classroom can be applied to situations on the basketball court. Principles learned in training for a cross country race, similarly, can be applied to the classroom. Athletics are not merely a tacked-on addition to our school’s educational philosophy, rather they are an integral part of how we seek to educate students holistically.

Another trademark of the classical approach is equipping our students for a life of wisdom, virtue, and eloquence through teaching them to recognize and pursue what is good, true, and beautiful. Athletic competition provides one particularly productive context for the cultivation of virtue. In the heat of competition and the face of adversity, character is tested and proven. In the midst of this challenge, students have the most practical opportunity to learn wisdom and virtue from both their failures and successes.

Of course coaches and parents too can model and cultivate virtue through their conduct at athletic events. As such, we strive to model for our students both humility in our shortcomings and virtue in the face of adversity.

Community

Sports have the unique ability to bring people together. At Providence, athletics are one way in which we seek to develop rich and meaningful community. We strive to use the common goals of athletic excellence and character development as one context in which we may fellowship together and build unity and collaboration between coaches, teachers, parents, students, and administrators. Rather than allowing athletics to cause division or social hierarchies, we want to see a shared vision for excellent athletics that cultivate wisdom and virtue to the glory of God become part of deepening of the bonds within our school community and the individual discipleship of our students.

Conclusion

We desire to build an athletic program that both reflects and advances our school’s core identity as a classical, Christian community. We want outsiders to see our athletics—both in our virtuous conduct and competitive excellence—as an integral aspect of the vision that sets us apart as a school community. We want families to look at the opportunity and community afforded by our athletic program and think, “That’s another good reason to send my student to Providence.” In all these things, our chief goal and great hope is that the triune God would be glorified in all that we do.

This post is excerpted from the 2015-2016 Providence Athletic Handbook which was developed by Providence Athletic Director Kyle Keating. To learn more about the practical challenges and opportunities facing Providence athletic programs, please see pages 3 and 4 of the Athletic Handbook.

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