The Freedom to Try New Sports

Alex Bartlett

This fall, Logan ’19 wanted an athletic challenge. He’d played recreational tennis in the past, but soccer was calling to him. Plus, he dabbled with the sport during a trip to Costa Rica last summer, and he wanted to try his skills on Bement’s fields.

Luckily, Bement’s upper school athletic program encourages students to both commit to a sport they love, and to try new sports. Logan was able to easily switch his focus from tennis to soccer, which was a welcome change for the team. He tried out and became the varsity goalkeeper.

Asked what made Logan try soccer, he said, “I played rec tennis and was comfortable, but wanted a change. I didn’t feel like it was really benefiting the needs of Bement. My friends encouraged me at the end of last year to play soccer because they knew they needed a keeper for the upcoming season. It was rough at first, but I started to love it. The beginning of the season was a challenge too, but my teammates kept encouraging me and motivating me to keep at it.”

At Bement, we encourage students to commit to a sport that they are passionate about and begin to develop specific skills towards mastery. At the same time, we realize that by ninth grade our young athletes may have more to learn about the sports available to them. Bodies grow at different paces, people’s interests change over time, and as a culture, it is important to allow room for experimentation and investigation.

Often, kids are asked to specialize in a sport at a young age and play it intensely year round. We believe that playing new and different sports develops different muscles and skills, protects against muscle fatigue and injury, and challenges our athletes to use their brains and bodies in various ways. Additionally, they might discover a lifelong passion or pastime by trying new sports.

It wasn’t until Osaretin “OT” Igbinedion ’10’s ninth grade year when he discovered a new sport: the discus in track and field. A passionate and accomplished athlete at Bement who went on to attend the Marine Military Academy, OT used his time at Bement to try lacrosse, baseball, ultimate, and track and field. New to throwing the discus, OT went on to win the entire event at the Bement Invitational.  

Track and field Coach Dan Bensen said of OT, “He became a powerhouse. Something clicked and he figured it out. He was raw and fun to work with.”

OT’s story is the perfect example of Bement’s athletic program, which gives students the time and space to become powerhouses while they work hard and have fun.  OT sums up this sentiment when he says, "Being raised in a different country/culture and trying out different sports meant the world to me. It didn’t matter where you were from, or what you look like. It gave me the opportunity to bond with people from all over the world, although we might have had different views. Sports provided us with a safe place to put aside all our differences and come together as one to achieve one goal!"

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