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Warrior athletic department goal: build character

Years ago this belief statement was crafted by the Warrior Athletic Department: The Brainerd interscholastic activities program encourages multi-sport, multi-activity participation and provides challenge for students in a competitive learning environment that includes rigor and commitment, requires fair play and good sportsmanship, and enhances pride in self, team, and school.

On Aug. 13, Warrior coaches and athletes embarked on yet another fall season in the long and storied history of Brainerd High School athletics. This is the time when months of preparation, planning, and personal growth shape and influence the season. Each new year is filled with the dreams, hopes, aspirations, and goals of athletes and coaches alike. Dreams of a championship, a trip to state, or earning a spot on the varsity roster give way to the realities that play out during the course of a sport season. It is exciting for each of us; we cannot predict the journey or its outcome. We can, however, immerse ourselves fully in the experience and be better for it.

Why are we better if we participate? What value do educationally based activities have for our young people? What value do these activities have for our communities? It is certain that a positive, healthy school environment is dependent upon a student body that chooses to engage in programming that extends beyond the normal school day. Decades of research affirms that students who choose to participate in our activities program are much more likely to:

• Have better attendance

• Earn higher grade-point averages

• Have lower drop-out rates

• Graduate from high school

• Record fewer discipline problems

• Remain drug free

• Attend college

High school activities also build character and self-confidence for its participants. In addition, athletic and fine arts activities support classroom learning by generating a sense of school and community pride based on the constant nurturing of the feelings of belonging and achievement. Our community benefits because we continually “better our best.”

In my former role as a high school principal, I worked closely with business and industry leaders, the Applied Learning Institute, and other educational leaders to determine college and career readiness benchmarks for students. Interestingly, skills that repeatedly surfaced as essential for the 21st century workplace were:

• A great work ethic

• Oral and written communication

• Collaboration and teamwork

• Critical thinking and/or problem solving.

And so another season begins. We will continue to build tomorrow’s workforce, citizens, and leaders one drill, practice, or competition at a time. This is what we do. We coach and play beyond the scoreboard. We coach to change lives. It is the Warrior Way. Go Warriors!