San Diego student athletes: fostering superior leadership and academic excellence

By Kevin Yaley, Head of Francis Parker School

Most of us have a favorite school sports team, whether from our alma mater or the local high school or university program. Yet despite our enthusiasm for

San Diego student athletes

, we tend to forget the deeper value that comes from uniting athletics and education. While sports are a great way to teach young people about the benefits of friendly competition, physical fitness and overall health, they also instill lessons about teamwork and leadership that help to balance out an academic curriculum. Together, these elements create a strong basis for balanced education – and help our students grow into great leaders and successful adults.

Competition vs. inclusion: striking a balance

Most schools include physical fitness and teambuilding activities in their curricula. However, few provide an environment in which school-sponsored athletics are accessible to all students, regardless of skill level or physical prowess. Unfortunately, many athletic programs tend to prioritize talent over inclusion; and as a result, many students eager to try new sports are relegated to the sidelines. In other cases, school athletic programs may be so competitive and rigorous that those athletes who are successful on the field find themselves struggling in the classroom. Either way, it is clear that balance is the missing element necessary to yield the greatest benefit for all students.

At Francis Parker School, our students participate in a diverse selection of competitive sports teams. But they do so as well-rounded student athletes, with the support of both teachers and coaches and a curriculum designed to strike a balance between the athletics and academics. Furthermore, no student at Parker will ever be turned away from any sports team they wish to join. Our distinctive no-cut policy ensures that all students will have the chance to try new sports and experience the joys of playing on a team – regardless of experience or skill level.

We are proud to be a leader in producing successful student athletes here in San Diego, and begin our mission to integrate sports and education from the very start of each student’s time at Parker. From Lower School through 6


grade, Parker students participate in a variety of sports while developing new physical skills and gaining an understanding of sportsmanship and teamwork. From there, our 7


and 8


graders have the opportunity to play on our interscholastic teams and engage in competition. Finally, students in grades 9-12 may play on our Frosh/Soph, Junior Varsity of Varsity teams and compete with other schools throughout the city; and for those who prefer less competitive activities, we also offer Physical Education classes and Independent PE credit for approved studies.

Lancers at the next level: taking the student athlete model into the world

Currently, there are over sixty graduates of Francis Parker School playing in NCAA Division I, II or III programs throughout the country. We are proud to count these individuals as ambassadors of our philosophy at Parker, and recognize them as role models who remind us that, with a well-rounded education, anything is possible. For those interested in learning more about our alumni athletes, or

athletics at Francis Parker School

, get in touch online at