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This week, BUA held its first ever volleyball game. A group of 18 players came together; a few clearly had some experience, but many had never played the sport in any organized way. There were some beautiful serves, sets, and digs. There were also some misses and confusion about the rules! And the whole time, our student athletes were smiling. They cheered each others’ successes, but were even more vocal in supporting one another when somebody made a mistake – with smiles, affirmations, and hugs.

I love being at a school filled with students who are so willing to try a new sport, particularly in a world where the pressure to specialize in athletics starts so early. The athletic program here has always been about participation first, and that culture does not happen by accident. I remember a moment during the basketball season this fall when one of the senior girls literally had her arm around the shoulder of a 9th grader, offering a pep talk. Our older, more experienced athletes take younger, newer players under their wings – in some cases literally – providing encouragement and reinforcing what our athletic culture is all about: getting out there, being part of a team, having fun, getting some exercise, and making friends who will be with you for a lifetime.

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