Middle School Athletic Program
All Middle School students are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the athletic program, with the understanding that there is a level of commitment expected and required.
Large teams will be split into the appropriate number of teams to ensure maximum playing time. The students will be placed where the coaches feel they may have the most success.
There are no exceptions from physical education or sports requirements. A doctor’s note (may not be a family member) must be presented for a student to be excused from daily participation in either physical education or sports practice.
Middle school athletes may be eligible to tryout for an Upper School Varsity program after meeting with and receiving permission from the Middle School Principal, the Middle School Athletic Director and the Upper School Athletic Director.
Dunham adheres to a “no-cut” policy for sports. Because of the value of sports participation mentioned in our philosophy, we feel all students should have the opportunity to participate regardless of skill level. As a result of this policy, teams may consist of members whose abilities vary considerably. We hope our students will see this as a positive opportunity to help one another.
In sports with a sub-varsity team or more than one team in middle school, the coaching staff will determine which team a player is best suited for.
In the case of sports which require an off-campus facility, roster limitations may be imposed. Athletes must be of varsity caliber to make the competition roster. If this becomes the case, it is our goal to provide development squads with abbreviated practice schedules.
It is the hope of the athletic department that those who come out for sports are there in competitive spirit, to enjoy and learn. Varsity sports are for those who are extremely serious about competition. Even though Dunham possesses a no-cut policy, athletes with repeated absences or discipline issues can be excused from a team pending approval from the athletic director and the middle school principal. Coaches will schedule a meeting with the parents of any athlete in jeopardy of being dismissed from a team.
Fifth & Sixth Grade
Many students at these grade levels are still learning the rules and developing the skills for each particular sport. It is important that skill work is the primary focus for these grades as well as learning the meaning of commitment and sacrifice that are so important in sports and life.
The leagues in which we participate require mandatory play for 5th and 6th grade students who are regular attendees at practice and scheduled events, demonstrate good attitudes and are in good academic standing. This rule exists so that all students will have the opportunity to learn and be engaged in the sport they have chosen. There is, however, a misconception about mandatory play. Depending on the rule of the sport, it does not mean equal playing time; it means that each student will have the opportunity to play. Students will be awarded playing time based on their attendance at practices and games, their work ethic, their attitude, and their skill level.
Seventh & Eighth Grade
Students in these grades are preparing for participation in high school athletics and should understand the meaning of commitment and sacrifice. Mandatory play is only in effect for some 7th grade teams and is at the discretion of the coach based on attendance, attitude and academic standing. As stated before in this handbook, Dunham rejects the idea of winning at all costs and every effort will be made to include every player in each contest. Awarding playing time is encouraged at this age level but is not guaranteed. It is important for students of this age to learn that playing time is earned through hard work, commitment and sacrifice, which will help them develop important character qualities.
In Jill Rigby’s book Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World, she addresses the issue of Cheerleading vs. Coaching. Ms. Rigby cites several examples of parents who praise their children even after poor performance on the field or court. It is her stance that this “false praise diminishes trust”. Students want to trust their parents above all others and they also want to trust their coach. If these people are not honest with them, they stop trusting us. “False Praise Undermines Ambition” – if we praise them for poor performance then we reduce their motivation to improve. “False Praise Fails to Offer Guidance” – it is our job to help student-athletes figure out how to improve and identify their mistakes so that they can grow.
We ask that parents partner with the coaches to help the students feel valued, learn how to work hard, learn what commitment looks like, learn how to receive constructive criticism so that they may grow in every way, and learn to trust us because we are honest with them.
Select a Middle School athletic program below to learn more: