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Summer sports days celebrate ‘team before self’

13 June 2019

Nick Starbrook

Director of Sport

Sports day is an important time for every pupil, regardless of their year group. First and foremost, it’s a great day to have fun with friends in the (hopefully!) beautiful sunshine in an atmosphere of light-hearted and enjoyable sporting competition. However, it also serves as an invaluable opportunity to show every pupil that whether they are competing as an individual or as part of a team, their every effort matters. It’s this attitude of ‘team before self’ that forms the basis of our organisation for the respective sports day events for Early Years, Pre-Prep, Lower Prep, Upper Prep and Senior School. Particularly in the younger year groups, we want to instil a strong attitude of participation and contributing to an overall ‘team effort’ as early as possible in their academic lives. Fortunately, this is an attitude that was clearly shown by everyone who competed.  
Early Years and years 1 and 2 sports day
The weather certainly didn’t let us down, and pupils in Early Years and years 1 and 2 eagerly went through a series of six different stations, each dedicated to a wide range of athletics-inspired mini-games such as kangaroo springs and dribbling footballs around cones. This setup allowed each pupil to be involved in lots of different events which catered to all manner of different sporting abilities and hopefully allowed everyone to enjoy a measure of success at various points throughout the day. The winners of each race or game were given a ‘star card’, to put into their house tray. These cards were then totted up to see which house had won, with the following results for this year.

Early Year: The Combermere

Year 1: The Wellesley

Year 2: The Wellesley

With these younger pupils, sports day serves as a great way to further introduce them to the fundamentals of athletics, allowing them to refine important skills without overwhelming them with overly technical or strenuous events. Again, it’s all about giving them the chance to have fun, participate meaningfully and create a sound foundation of sports skills that will serve them well in later years.  
Lower Prep
This same objective prevails in Lower Prep, but by this stage pupils are capable of tackling more formal athletic track and field events. This year saw the Lower Prep pupils taking on the 60-metre sprint, 300-metre run, indoor shotput (softer then the full-fledged version) turbo-javelin (a plastic, front-weighted variant), long jump, high jump and some tug-of-war to finish. Pupils threw themselves into these events with gusto, eager to win points for their house. This time The Combermere came out on top after a very hard-fought competition with only 5 points separating them and The Stanley. This really goes to show that every point counts! These events can be seen as another useful stepping stone towards accessing the full range of traditional athletics events. Furthermore, it gave our Lower Prep pupils a very helpful introduction to the idea of ‘performance data’ in sport. By recording their individual timings, points and positions, they started to think about the importance of taking this kind of data and using it to find ways to track improvements in their overall performance.  
Upper Prep
Our Upper Prep sports day started with a house parade around the racing track with pupils proudly waving their house flags. This set the tone nicely for an afternoon of spirited inter-house competition! Pupils quickly engaged in a series of more standard athletics events, including: sprints, middle-distance running and a fuller range of field events. At this level, houses organised their members into A, B and C tiers for their chosen events. These different categories allow more pupils to get involved while playing to their strengths. This is essential for helping pupils understand instinctively that every performance can be valuable for a greater team effort. For example, while you may be an A-tier runner for the sprints, you may be on the C tier for the longer distances, but the points of both tiered events count towards the final rankings. Once again, every effort counted, every point was meaningful – this gave our pupils the invaluable lesson that it’s not all about being first, it’s about contributing to the team. At the end of yet another tight and exhilarating competition, The Stanley was declared the winner of this year’s Upper Prep sports day.  
Senior School
The post-exams feeling of relief and accomplishment no doubt helped lighten the limbs of our seniors who treated everyone in attendance to a fantastic afternoon of sporting competition that was both pleasantly relaxed yet suitably competitive. Taking on the full challenges of track and field athletic events, seniors in all of the five houses did themselves proud while their housemates and teachers cheered them on from the welcome shade and comfort of the recently refurbished sports field stand. However, it was The Hopetoun who narrowly won the day, with a mere 10 points separating them from The Combermere! Again, our seniors displayed an admirable level of dedication and sporting prowess throughout the afternoon as they sought out personal bests (PBs) while encouraging their friends and peers from across the houses to do the same.  
A sporting atmosphere
In every event across each of the sports days, I was thrilled to note how great the atmosphere was. Pupils were giving it their all in every event, while those who weren’t actively competing at that moment were still avidly spectating, cheering on their friends and respectfully clapping their opponents in other houses. This is exactly how it’s supposed to be and it’s very satisfying to see Wellingtonians of all ages practising the finer points of our sporting philosophy and our College Values. I’d like to congratulate every pupil for both their achievements and overall attitude during another great series of sporting competitions. Furthermore, I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the many parents and FoW members who came out to support in providing much-appreciated refreshments and encouragement.