Director of Athletics, Brendan Cole illuminates the self-discovery of our athletics and physical education program.
My introduction to athletics came at an early age. After admiring my older brothers playing sports, I asked my mom if I could join the basketball team at the local YMCA. I was 4 years old and sports have been a part of my life ever since. Playing competitive team sports taught me how to deal with adversity and work with others, specifically with people who are different from me. It may be that we’re from different neighborhoods and different backgrounds, but my teammates and I always had one common goal, and that was to work together and try our best.
Doing your best is hard, by the way. It doesn’t necessarily sound hard, but it is. We don’t always want to do our best, we sometimes want to do what’s easy, familiar and comfortable. Because I was so often forced out of my comfort zone on the basketball court and the football field, I conditioned myself to be more adaptive and more resilient. That flexibility soon transferred to other aspects of my life allowing me a greater ability to meet adversity in the classroom and my social life. All thanks to my experiences playing sports. How do you measure whether you’ve done your best? You’ll come out and compete one day and reach your goal. You might come out and compete the next day and fall short.
The beauty of participating in athletics is that doing your best solely depends on whether you’ve tried your best, regardless of the outcome. You can give your best and still lose—and that’s OK! That’s what happens in life. My hope for Field students is that they resist the urge to tie their self-worth to whether they’ve won or lost, but rather to whether they’ve tried their best.
I am motivated by The Field School’s focus on physical activity. This year, Field introduced a new PE program in the middle school, which will allow kids to be physically active during the day. What is that important? The connection between physical activity and mental health is more obvious than ever due to the impact of the pandemic. Studies show that participation in physical activity can counteract depression in young people. Oftentimes, athletics are only tied to physical health, but mental health is also a top priority of the athletic program here at Field. Our teachers and coaches design experiences for kids that not only develop discipline, teamwork, and skill-building, but also promote self-confidence and having a good time.
The other aspect of the Field athletics program that speaks to me is our emphasis on trying things out. If you want to try something new, we not only make space for that, we encourage it! It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever held a tennis racquet, come out for tennis! We want to support your self-discovery in giving something a shot. That push towards self-discovery is everywhere here at Field; from the choices we offer students with our intersession and studio arts program, to the way teachers inspire students to stretch outside their comfort zone. I’m proud to be a part of The Field School’s celebration of trying things out and always trying our best. I hope all of you will try on a Falcon uniform and give it your best effort.