Beyond Trophies: The Life-Shaping Influence of Athletics at LCS

Written by Adam Ross (Director Athletics at Lakefield College School)

Every Monday night, a committed group of students come to the high-performance centre to train. They come willingly, not expecting accolades or prizes. Their reward is confidence, increased knowledge, and strength. Since the beginning of the year, they have all made great progress in their physical and mental fitness and stamina. They have stayed committed because of the success they have seen. This is just one example of the additional fitness opportunities available to students at Lakefield College School this year.

Lakefield has long been committed to supporting fitness and following the peak of the pandemic, the value of encouraging our teens to invest in their wellbeing became even more pronounced. During the pandemic, adolescent activity levels dropped significantly (Rossi, Behme, and Breuer, 2021). The underlying goal of all athletic and fitness programming at Lakefield College School is to instill the habits and skills to promote lifelong fitness. Every student at LCS is involved in a kinetic-based co-curricular program during the year;. these are programs where students are physically active during their time after school in a competitive team or recreational program. 

To further enhance our commitment to student wellbeing this year, we provided all students with an individualized fitness program designed to help them with their fitness goals. Students across all co-curricular programs have spent time with our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Matt Pritchard. Coach Matt (as he’s known by our students) meets with each co-curricular group individually and teaches them about the various elements of the specialized workouts that he designed for them, providing information about how to perform exercises along with its many benefits that will help them succeed in their chosen activity. He also helps orient students to Teambuildr, an online platform that delivers and tracks training programs. All students have access to this program and Coach Matt provides additional training opportunities for students every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at lunchtime and in the afternoon.

“Providing all of the teams with an individualized program is an essential part of promoting lifelong fitness. Students learn about how they can stay physically fit in the years following their graduation from LCS, when team sports may not be as readily accessible. It’s not only beneficial for our competitive athletes, though. Helping students in a recreational or arts program is just as important as our senior hockey team in promoting fitness for life,” explains Coach Matt. “I am also happy to help support those who are invested in their training and want to further excel in their sport of choice, as that is where my background is.”

In response to our students’ desire for more opportunities to exercise, our athletics department is offering additional training times on evenings and weekends. Throughout the week, we offer evening weightlifting on Monday nights as well as female fitness, and general fitness clubs. We also have a life fitness co-curricular program where students learn how to maintain lifelong healthy habits and a weight training co-curricular program where students learn weight training exercises and gain knowledge about the lifelong benefits of strength training. On weekends, eager students can explore fitness opportunities off-campus by attending yoga, spin class, and Orange Theory exercise classes in Peterborough. Not to mention, those who prefer a more relaxed approach to fitness have access to a range of recreational activities like recreational skiing, shinny hockey, open skating and recreational rock climbing. 

As final exams approach in June, we encourage our students to maintain their physical activity routines. Extensive research supports the profound benefits of incorporating physical activity as a break from academic learning time. Studies consistently highlight improved attention, increased on-task behaviours, and improved academic performance (Grieco, Jowers and Batholomew, 2009; Mahar, Murphy, Rowe, Golden, Shields and Raedeke, 2006; Bartholomew and Jowers, 2011; Donnelly and Lambourne, 2011). By prioritizing their physical wellbeing, students can unlock their full potential both during their time at Lakefield and well into the future.