By Miles Johnson ‘19, Reporter 11-22-18
The Quaker “SPICES,” Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship, are known to guide the behavior of Friends’ Centralites in the classroom. The school also expects that its student-athletes will uphold these values outside of the classroom, even while competing in athletic programs. As an institution routed in Quaker values, Friends’ Central aims to instill in student-athletes strong moral character on and off the field, even though coaches of course urge their teams to win.
A beautiful example of “character over outcome” occurred at a recent boys’ soccer game. The team had a four-seed versus five-seed playoff game against Moorestown Friends School. Seven minutes into the game, one of the players from Moorestown Friends was laid out on the ground injured. Everyone eventually learned that the player broke his leg and after 20-25 minutes, he was carted off the field by an ambulance. Although this unfortunate incident unfolded in the midst of an intense playoff game, both teams stopped what they were doing and checked on the player. At the end of the game, we lost one-zero and were knocked out of the Friends League Playoffs. Despite this, our players handled the loss with the SPICES in mind. A day after the loss, the head coach of the team, Galen Guindon ‘06, said to his players, “I received an email from the MFS coach today. He wanted to thank you all for the kind words and classy way you handled their player getting injured. Yesterday wasn’t our day, but I am always proud of the way you represent our school and program!”
I interviewed Liam Sullivan ‘19. Liam is a four-year varsity soccer player and has been one of the captains of the boys’ soccer team since his junior year. Liam told me that before he went to Friends’ Central, he was always a competitive player, but was never really concerned with sportsmanship until he came here. Liam reflected, “I think what helped me develop this understanding of the importance of sportsmanship was playing for Coach Galen. He always reminds us that whether we win or lose, we will do it with class, because that is what kind of program we are.” When you step foot on the field, court, pool, and track, you are not only representing yourself, but you are representing your school and the values for which it stands. Liam said that having good character is so important because “our actions on the field reflect our school whether we want them to or not. Keeping a good reputation for our school can help attract more kids which will let the athletic program grow and develop.”
Next, I interviewed Raanee Smith ‘19. Raanee is a University of Colorado commit, a four-year varsity basketball player, and has been the captain of the girls’ basketball team since her junior year. Raanee explained the balance of staying competitive in order to win, as well as having good sportsmanship on the court. She said, “If I want to have a chance at winning, let alone actually win, then I have to compete. When incorporating sportsmanship into this idea of competitiveness, it acts a set of unspoken rules that I abide by. Things as simple as picking up a member on the opposing team after a foul or handshaking at the end of the game are easy sportsmanship-related things to do that do not impede on my competitive, game-driven mindset.” Being competitive, while at the same time valuing sportsmanship, is not difficult for Raanee to balance. To Raanee, playing with good sportsmanship is just an acknowledgment that she is playing basketball and having fun while doing it. Furthermore, the importance of good sportsmanship to her reflects the respect she has for the game.
Of course, in any sport, whether Quaker or not, scoring a win is a goal every player strives to achieve. While Quaker tradition doesn’t totally disagree with competition, it urges players to demonstrate it in a way which reflects high ethical standards. As an example of a way this sportsmanship can manifest itself, players are able to be competitive and show that they care without having an attitude if we get subbed off by our coach, or yelling at the ref after a bad call. Upholding integrity and leadership is something that every player can show while competing. This is the culture here at Friends’ Central. Our Quaker culture is a social glue and this is what promotes a positive community.
How does a player react to a bad call? How should a player react to being sent to the bench when they would rather play? What we’ve learned from our players with good values is that however a player responds, it should be in a way that upholds the testimonies we hold most dear--especially in this year of integrity. Developing solid sportsmanship is a virtue that will prepare us for life well beyond the field, court, track, or pool, and well beyond Friends’ Central.