Winning with Character
William S. McKersie, PhD, Superintendent
Many of us have been obsessed these weeks with March Madness (now creeping into April), and especially the great run (again) by the U Conn Women Hoopsters. Watching the national sports scene has prompted reflections on my part about athletics and sports competition in the Greenwich Public Schools.
Athletics are a well-known attribute of our town and school district. We field over 40 varsity teams in sports ranging from football to soccer, from fencing to water polo, from swimming to rugby, from basketball to baseball. Few high schools nationally can match the mix of sports teams we offer our students.
Our teams on average win, and win a lot. Last year, the win-loss percentage was a remarkable 82 percent. Greenwich athletes every year climb to the top spot in state championships. Boys Swimming has set the pace with 35 state championships in 43 years. Girls Swimming, Boys Fencing, Girls Fencing, Boys Skiing, Boys Lacrosse, Rugby and Girls Golf all won State Championships last year. Girls Swimming has won 11 consecutive state championships and Boys Rugby has conquered nearly all opponents over the past several years, winning the state championship for 7 straight years while competing regionally and nationally. Girls and Boys Water Polo continue to dominate their sports in Connecticut. Over the years, Greenwich High Schools athletic teams have won over 200 conference and 335 divisional titles.
As sports fans know, just behind every state champion are equally impressive teams and athletes who just fell short due to an unlucky bounce or missed stroke. Greenwich has just missed on state championships in several sports: Boys Varsity Hockey by a goal this year and Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball and Boys Basketball last year.
For all these victories, the old coach in me is most concerned with another type of win: do we have athletes, coaches and families who know and act on the truth that character and sportsmanship are the ultimate measure of success? Sport teaches all of us many lessons. The pinnacle life lesson for athletes is how they played the game, how they responded when struggling or failing, how they interacted with opponents before, during and after a match. Quality of play, perseverance, dignity and respect are the characteristics that mark a great athlete for their lifetime.
I am proud that Greenwich stands among the leaders in the state and region for winning with character. For two of the past three years, Greenwich High School has been awarded the FCIAC Cup for athletic participation, scholarship, sportsmanship and competitive results. Most recently, our Girls Varsity Basketball Team, coming off an impressive winning season, earned the 2015 IAABO Board 9 Sportsmanship Award from the Fairfield County Board of Officials.
In December 2014, the NAAIA honored Greenwich High School’s Nicole Graham as the national winner of the Student-Athlete Essay Scholarship Program for her piece entitled, “How Athletics Have Enhanced My High School Career.” Her essay was selected as the top female entry in the nation.
The old coach in me also knows, however, that winning with character is not easy; requiring dedication by administrators, teachers, coaches, athletes and their families. At times, we have had to confront behavior on the field or along the sidelines that falls below the standard. To do so is necessary if we truly will be an athletic program driven as much by character as winning records. I am proud that we take a strong stand.
We are headed into the spring season of athletics. I look forward to reports of more wins, especially in the category of character.
April 7, 2015, Superintendent Message: Winning with Character
March 5, 2015, Superintendent Message: Gauging Progress in the GPS - Take Two
February 1, 2015, Superintendent Message: Innovation Lab: Deep Learning In and For the Real World
January 12, 2015, Superintendent Message: Hot Topics for the Cold Months
December 1, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Gauging Progress in the GPS – Take One
November 3, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Lots of Industry...Lots of Product - Part II
October 7, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Lots of Industry...Lots of Product - Part I
September 2, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Our Signature: Achievement and Caring
June 1, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Distinguished Ideas
2014 Distinguished Teachers Essays
April 3, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Accelerating Achivement for All: Greenwich and the Achievement Gap
March 4, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Smarter Balanced - Field Test: Facts & Interpretation
February 5, 2014, Superintendent's Message: A Word on the Common Core
January 3, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Popular Knowledge of Complex Questions
December 3, 2013, Superintendent's Message: Distinguished Reflections
November 27, 2013, Superintendent's Thanksgiving Day Message
November 12, 2013, The Roots of Excellence
September 26, 2013, Letter to Greenwich Public School Families on our Call to Action and Strategic Focus
September 11, 2013 Letter to Greenwich Public School Families on Safe School Climate
September 3, 2013 Letter to Greenwich Public School Families on Safe School Climate
April 25, 2012, Superintendent of Schools Appointment Announcement
Resume for William S. McKersie (April 2012)