CAJ Athletics Together in Community
The CAJ athletic department consists of 24 different teams representing eight different sports across three seasons. By the time CAJ students graduate, the vast majority of them will have participated in at least one sports season, if not many more, throughout their middle or high school careers. I spent seven years as a CAJ athlete myself and have now had the privilege of coaching Knights athletes for seven years.
Most of my best memories as a CAJ student have a connection to my sports teammates. When asked about the benefits of playing sports at CAJ, numerous athletes and coaches brought up friendships they have formed and strengthened. Many students specifically mentioned how sports have given them a natural opportunity to interact with teammates from different grades. Riina (9th grade) commented that long tennis matches provide her with lots of time to talk with and get to know teammates.
Friendships are wonderful, but sports provide communal value to CAJ students in a multitude of other ways. Sarah (9th grade) commented that sports have taught her “what good collaboration and leadership look like, and also how to include everyone.” Miki (10th grade) added, “I've grown to think more about others instead of myself because the environment of the team is to lean on one another.” J (11th grade) highlighted the learning that happens when facing adversity in a team setting. “Going through tough situations forces you to trust your teammates, communicate better, and help each other up when someone falls down.” He added, “This is something that a classroom setting cannot really bring.”
Practices and matches can be simultaneously fun, painful, and emotional. “You win together, you lose together. But at the end of the day, you're still a team,” said Nikki (10th grade). “You go through the physical pain of conditioning and running, and encourage each other to keep going and keep giving 100 percent.”
Indeed, CAJ athletes get to see the living embodiment of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 in their sports practices and matches every day. The author writes:
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. … Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Some CAJ athletes will continue to play their sports competitively beyond high school. Most will not. Every student, however, takes away something special from their sports experience at CAJ: a community in which to make unforgettable memories, build unbreakable bonds, and learn unconventional lessons.