Friday, November 15, 2013

Athletic Statement of Purpose

One of the verities of modern organizational theory is that every organization should be mission-driven.  Houston Academy's mission is:

Houston Academy is an independent college preparatory institution. Our mission is to prepare all our students for responsible participation in a global society by providing an excellent learning environment and opportunities to achieve their highest academy, social, and creative potential.

My letter on the web page briefly elucidates what our mission means to us. Nevertheless, the idea is that everything we do, from strategic planning, to teaching, to athletics, should point back to the mission. That is, anything we do should be consistent with the mission of the school. Or, as my former Head, Clay Lilienstern used to remind us, “Stick to the mission!”

However, it is also important, under the umbrella of the mission, to have statement of purposes for various facets of the school.  That is, we need to be clear what the goal and intent is for different aspects of the school. Relative to the academic mission of the school, we have formed a teacher-led Academic Council in both the Lower School and Upper School. We expect these two groups, in part, to forge goals, evaluate and frame teacher performance, and assess learning outcomes. Over time, I expect us to publicly clarify specific goals within our academic program.

Upon arriving at Houston Academy, I also called upon Jim Robbins (our Athletic Director) and his coaching staff to come up with a statement of purpose for our athletic department. Everyone agreed that this was needed, and we look at it as a first step towards clarifying policies and procedures.  So, I proudly present to you our finished product.

Admittedly, the group borrowed heavily from other examples of statements of purpose at other like-minded independent schools. Still, I believe this statement captures what we believe to be the purpose of our athletic program, and our statement is wholly consistent with our mission. Please take the time to peruse our statement, below.

As always, your feedback on this is welcome and encouraged. 

Houston Academy Athletics
Statement of Purpose and Intent

The HA Athletic programs exist to further advance the school’s Mission Statement in the lives of as many of its students as possible with specific emphasis on instilling “providing an excellent learning environment” and helping each student athlete to achieve his or her “highest…potential.” Athletics provides a living laboratory of learning where coaches consistently model and teach the principles of integrity, honesty, respect, responsibility, and excellence.  In addition to the educational purpose of HA athletics, the program has two other purposes:  to aid in the attraction of multi-talented students by promoting an awareness of overall school excellence in the community and to encourage the creation of “school spirit” by developing loyalty and a sense of identification with the school.

To live up to these purposes, the athletic experience at HA develops the whole person by emphasizing development of the student athlete’s body, mind, and spirit through emphasis on the following:              

  • Discipline - Placing team before self and future accomplishments ahead of current comforts.     
  • Vision - Helping the student athlete understand and embrace what can be accomplished with the combination of individual effort, teamwork, and a winning attitude.                                                                                                   
  • Passion – Unleashing each student athlete’s personal drive for excellence by creating a positive environment where working hard, both individually and together is fun.                                                                                  
  • Conscience – Conducting all elements of the athletic experience in an ethical and uplifting manner with emphasis on a) two-way respect between coaches and student athletes, and b) outstanding sportsmanship at all times. HA resolutely believes that violation of the Statement of Purpose and Intent in pursuit of more victories is unacceptable.

HA will provide resources to accomplish the above with focus in three areas:                                          
  • Coaches – Individuals who are experienced and knowledgeable in the sport, and who have a passion for the HA Athletic Statement of Purpose and Intent, will be chosen as coaches.  The school will ensure that ongoing training is available to enhance the coaches’ skills in all areas.  The Varsity coach will also be responsible for overseeing lower and middle school developmental programs for his/her sport.  The Athletic Director will complete formal evaluations at the end of each athletic season. These evaluations will measure how successfully the above principles were taught throughout the season.  Winning is one of the goals.  The ultimate measure of success is contained in this document.
  • Training Programs – Training programs will be made available to student athletes and encouraged/directed by the coaches within AHSAA guidelines.  This will include items such as strength training, summer camps, and other leagues or competitions.
  • Facilities and Equipment – HA will provide facilities and equipment at a level that will allow this statement of Purpose and Intent to be fulfilled.  This will require ongoing evaluation and continued investment.

HA strongly believes that success will be achieved when these principles are aggressively and consistently embraced and pursued.