NEWTON GROVE — At Midway High School, student-athletes are learning to succeed on and off the field.
A group of students recently attended The Coach & Captain Retreat, hosted by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. Leigh Ann Smith, softball coach, was impressed with the benefits of the program. Some of the topics covered included emphasis on leadership, communication and understanding ways to prevent substance abuse and violence in sports.
“The activities were good and made kids think about what goes on in the school,” Smith said. “It’s definitely something I would like to do again.”
Student Miranda Holmes was grateful for the opportunity to represent Midway for a good cause.
“I had a great time and an even better experience,” Holmes said. “I can’t wait to put to use all the tools we were taught.”
Chloe Baggett and Hanna Lucas felt the same way and enjoyed spending time with teammates and meeting new friends from the state.
“We were taught characteristics on how to be a good leader and I will use what I learned to be a leader, not only on the field, but also in the classroom,” Baggett said.
During the retreat, one of the topics involved student-athletes and their responsibility when it comes to academics. Students had to pick sides on the issue of letting superstar athletes play ball, if their not succeeding in the classroom.
“It’s making kids come out of their box and think about their morals and their ethics,” Smith said.
In groups, participants had to pick two ethic topics that should be addressed. The Midway High students picked social media and substance abuse as the second. Smith said it was an eye opening experience of issues effecting students.
As a result, the Midway High students would like to produce an infomercial about how drugs and alcohol will interfere with academics and athletics. Student Blythe Best is looking forward to the project.
“From this retreat, I will continue to bring leadership to my school, as well as the other girls who attended, through a service project that we are excited to soon participate in,” Blythe said.
The students also met with the mother of a child who committed suicide because of the pressure of athletics and college life.
“Her social media posts looked like she was very happy all the time, but really inside she was not happy,” Smith said. “That was thing they was able to talk about. People try to put on the facade that they’re happy, but inside they’re devastated.”
Midway High athletic director Beth Best is looking forward to another session in March. She said it’s a win-win for the students, coaches and the community.
“We’re just not here playing ball games,” she said. “We’re really here growing our children from the inside out.”
She noted that officials from the program were impressed with the work of the Midway team. As an athletic director, Best said her job is more than just game preparation and stats.
“As an AD, my desire is to see our athletes and coaches grow within themselves outside of the field and become better leaders,” Best said. “It’s not always about winning and statistics. It’s about making them winners in life and it starts here with us. We’re the base.”