Sports Lessons

Student athletes demonstrate the value of leadership across disciplines.

“Research shows that companies want to hire people with athletic backgrounds,” John Square, Sidwell Friends’ new David Pearson ’52 Athletic Director, told a standing-room-only crowd during Homecoming. He went on to describe how sports helps teach how to handle pressure, manage time, work with others toward a group goal, reach deep when the situation calls for it. Those benefits drive Square’s passion for the Sidwell Friends Sports Leadership Academy, a special two-year program that student athletes apply for to hone their skills as leaders—on and off the field. “I’m looking at this now in the context of sports,” said Kevyn Orr ’24, a football player, “but how can I redirect it for leadership in the workplace?”

The academy, which is currently is open to 50 Upper School students, also allows athletes across sports, class years, and genders to come together for a common purpose; that means athletes who may never encounter one another in a game can still bond as Sidwell Friends scholar athletes. “Hard work and working well together applies to everything,” said Square, adding that he expects Sports Leadership Academy members to “be in the front row and leading projects” in their academic courses as well.

Andrew Ludwin ’23 candidly discussed how he learned the hard way that leadership decisions aren’t always easy to navigate. As captain of the golf team, Ludwin described for the audience how he struggled to decide whether to participate in a private tournament he had qualified for or lead his Quakers team in a different competition on the same day. He chose the former, only to regret it later. “I learned that was a bad decision,” he said, to understanding smiles around the room. “Sometimes you need to be tested in the real world.”

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