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Participation in school activities and athletics provides additional lessons and leadership opportunities for students.

Tiger fall sports are off and running. We have eight fall sports: boys and girls cross country, boys football, boys and girls soccer, girls swimming and diving, girls tennis, and girls volleyball. Although participation numbers have decreased overall compared to pre-COVID participation numbers — 404 participants this year compared to 499 participants pre-COVID — we are seeing higher participation in both boys and girls cross country, and in boys soccer.

Our coaches started this year off with professional development centered around the Minnesota State High School League Why We Play curriculum. This training program helps coaches direct our programs to be focused on educational athletics. This is a different model than youth, college or professional athletics. Coaches worked on developing a personal purpose statement. This statement is their “why” for why and how they coach.

Discussion centered around setting goals for each team’s season. Goals are a necessary part of any team in any season. Goals have a beginning, an end, and they are measurable. Your purpose or your “why” should not change. It should represent what your team/program stands for, and what you want your players to take away from being involved in your program.

Coaches have great power. Developing strong purpose statements sets our coaches up to provide the best possible experience for our student-athletes. We will continue to build on this training moving forward.

Superfans! We have begun to work with a group of students that will be leaders in our student section at sporting events — our Superfans! This group allows us to work with the students to discuss and plan for being appropriate with our words and actions at events, and help provide a fun atmosphere.

Our team captains will work on training for leadership in both our athletics and our school. Our student leaders play a big role in the success of our teams and the atmosphere of our school. This group will meet once a month to learn about being a leader. These lessons will go beyond their high school sports experience.

Tiger pride!

Bill Tschida is activities director for Hutchinson Public Schools. You, Your Kids & School is a twice-a-month column from Hutchinson Public Schools.