Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Giving Back

Note: Upon request of Richard Wilson, head of "The Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association," I submitted this letter to our local newspaper, "The Gloucester Daily Times," in hopes that it would help to generate additional donations for our local youth & public school athletic programs.

More Than Fun and Games: Why Gloucester Must Prioritize Funding For its Public School Athletic Programs

As a professional trainer, physical education teacher and competitive athlete, I am extremely appreciative of the tremendous positive impact that Gloucester public school athletic programs have made upon my life. This being said, I feel obligated to express a few of the various reasons why we as a community must pool our collective resources to ensure that funding for our middle school and high school athletic programs remains strong. It is no mystery that our city, like so many others across the nation, is struggling financially. However, skyrocketing user fees, dilapidated training facilities, and talk of cutting school based athletic programs altogether are issues that none of us should ignore.

There are countless studies that clearly document the direct positive impact that athletics and physical activity in general have upon a young person’s ability to learn. The latest research even goes so far as to state that school systems should incorporate physical movement into daily lesson plans as a means of provoking bio-chemical responses in the brain which have been proven to increase one’s ability to both learn and retain information. With schools across the country cutting way back on recess time, physical education classes and vocational programs, our students have never needed after school athletic programs more than they do now.

As a young adult, small business owner and triathlete, I credit the personal success that I have found in my life to the many lessons that I learned during my formative years as an athlete. Life, like sport, is never easy. In order to succeed, you must not only work hard and apply yourself consistently, but also learn how to persevere, especially in the face of hardship, loss and disappointment. I have always felt that a successful school system is one that provides a wide variety of opportunities for students to challenge themselves. Although science, mathematics, English and history are all essential components of a well rounded public education, many of life’s best lessons are learned on the field of play, especially those which force an individual to confront his or her own self-doubts and short-comings. True personal progress, be it athletic, academic, professional or social, is most often the end result of learning how to overcome adversity. The last time I checked, Corporate America wasn’t handing out six-figure salaries on a first come, first serve basis! Success in all facets of life requires determination, self-confidence and an ability to stay the course during challenging times, all traits that athletic participation helps to foster.

Gloucester has always taken great pride in her athletes and athletic programs. It goes without saying that a strong public school system is one that provides as many opportunities for personal growth and experience as possible. As an educator, it saddens me to think that many of the athletic resources that I was able to fully take advantage of while attending Gloucester public schools are either in jeopardy of being cut due to budgetary constraints, or becoming harder and harder for working class families to afford. My hope is that through a variety of fund raising efforts we can usher back in the days when playing an after school sport didn’t cost Gloucester families a dime.

First and foremost, I urge you to support the Gloucester public school system’s athletic programs by making a donation to the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association, a nonprofit organization founded and supported by community volunteers whose sole mission is to support and contribute to athletic programs/resources for the children of Gloucester. In addition, I look forward to playing an active role in the creation of a variety of fun and exciting fundraising events that will not only directly benefit our athletic programs, but showcase the best of what Gloucester and Cape Ann, in general, have to offer. I hope that you will consider joining me in this endeavor.

For membership information, or to make a donation, please visit the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association @

No comments: