Princeton High School hosts Changing the Game workshop to increase athletic participation

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photo by Aaron Wu

Former professional soccer player John O’Sullivan hosted a presentation for the Changing the Game Project on Wednesday, September 21 at the PAC. This talk aimed to promote positivity in sports and provide both parents and coaches with resources to ensure that sports maintain a balance between fun and competition. Lectures were hosted throughout the Mercer County area during the last week of September, including Hopewell Valley High School, which held workshops for players, and West Windsor-Plainsboro School District, which hosted information sessions.

O’Sullivan originally founded Changing the Game in response to the declining number of teenagers involved in competitive sports. His website cites that, in America, 70 percent of kids drop out of organized athletics by age 13. Through a series of lectures, such as those provided at PHS, the program hopes to inspire school districts to place an emphasis on physical activity and healthy living.

Many PHS varsity sport teams—including football, girls soccer, and field hockey—plan to send three to four players as representatives to the workshops.

“The chemistry on the field hockey team [has] always been amazing. We all love each other on and off the field, and that’s why we’re able to be successful,” said Georgia McLean ’17, varsity field hockey co-captain. “I think the [Changing the Game] workshop will be an exciting new experience for us to learn how we can make the team chemistry even better.”

While some teams view the lectures as an opportunity to build upon team chemistry, others feel the event is slightly ridiculous. Sports are naturally competitive and learning how to give and take criticism is part of being a good athlete.

“I think it is necessary to remain positive as far as sportsmanship and cheering for each other, but at the same time you still want to be a winning team,” said Sheryl Severance, PHS golf coach. “[The golf team] has times when we walk off the course and someone didn’t play well and let the team down. So you know what, you can’t just say to them ‘oh it’s okay.’ You need to say ‘listen you need to work on this’ or ‘you need to work on that.’ We all need to be a little more thick-skinned about [criticism].”

Changing the Game workshop hopes to address issues that previously contributed to low athletics participation after age 13 and continue to encourage sports involvement for students.

 

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