Getting a balanced school education can be just as important as getting a balanced diet. If you focus on just one subject such as math, your understanding of the rest of the world will be severely limited. Along with the core subjects, there are ones that teach students life skills and creativity. One organization has decided to spotlight sports in the curriculum in a massive way. It’s the Greater St. Albert Sports Academy.
In 2003, the Greater St. Albert Catholic School system started the Academy in order to give students who love hockey or soccer—or both—the chance to have more in-depth training as part of their regular school day alongside their P.E. class. The whole mission of the Academy is to show the students that the skills they learn when playing sports—determination, teamwork and fun—can also be used in their education and throughout life. Not only that: sports also allows a student’s brain to think about something other than math problems, essays and chemical formulas if only for a short while.
The Academy has become a great success in St. Albert, so much so that they’ve had to expand all of their programs and add new ones to cover all the interests. Due to demand, they now allow Grade 4 to 12 students into the popular Hockey Program. Students who participate in this program get professional-level instruction during their twice-a-week ice time in order for coaches to assess a student’s skills and give the students enough time to develop those skills during the school year. The other original program is soccer, which also covers a school year. Students get professional-level instruction on passing, control work, decision-making, dribbling and all the other skills needed to play high-level soccer. The Soccer Program takes students from Grades 4 to 9.
In 2012, they added their Performing Arts Program, which covers gymnastics, dance/cheer and acrobatics. In its very first year, the program had a waiting list, and even now, the program co-ordinators strongly suggest that students sign up early. Here, the Academy has partnered with Dynamyx Gymnastics Club and takes students from Grades 4 to 9 of all skill levels. This program will give students the opportunity to perform within the community, as well as at their own school. With performing sports, which are mainly solo sports, the Academy sees it as a way of giving self-confidence to students through hard work, practice and dedication from both student and instructor.
And this year, the Academy has brought in a new project: The Recreation Program. It will be for students Grades 4 to 6 and will cover a wide range of alternative and outdoor activities. What’s on offer? There’s mountain biking, golf, rugby, snow-shoeing, diving and water polo (just to name a few). “We’re really excited about the Recreation Program. The philosophy [with this program] is to have students use the sports that they love to build good life and study habits, therefore maintaining or improving their academics,” Geoff Giacobbo, the Academy’s Co-ordinator, explains. “The program is a skill-based program with an emphasis on creating physically literate student athletes who are proficient in a variety of activities.” Plus, it’s a wonderful way to learn new sports.
The Academy is open to any student who wants to join, especially those who truly love the game, work to his or her academic potential and are disciplined, dedicated and committed to improving. The student will need to attend one of the schools that are involved in the program. This isn’t just an extra-curricular program; it’s part of a student’s overall education. So, if your child loves hockey, soccer, gymnastics or wants to try a little bit of everything, check out the Greater St. Albert Sports Academy at www.sportsacademy.gsacrd.ab.ca or call Geoff Giacobbo at 780 405 9476.