For many school athletics programs, fielding the best-possible teams and amassing championship trophies are paramount. But Shipley’s Athletics program approaches things differently. Athletics Director Mark Duncan says it’s not just about wins and losses, but about giving students what they need to maximize their abilities and growth through character enrichment on the playing field, which he considers to be an extension of the classroom. “We want to support our athletes the best we can by giving them the best facilities and the best quality supplies, and we try to find the best coaching staff,” Duncan says. “We are always looking to support our student athletes—all of them, at every level.”
Given these efforts, Duncan contends that a team championship or a top ranking in the region are a “bonus” and that in the end, it’s all about giving everyone who competes a good experience. “We want to provide them foremost with a place where they can learn life skills and grow,” he says.
In order to foster this commitment towards character building on the playing fields and ensuring that all student athletes receive a positive experience in their development, Shipley joined the Friends Schools League (FSL) back in 2006.* Though Shipley isn’t a Quaker school, Duncan says that it shares many of the values held by other schools in the League and that Shipley is committed to the League’s philosophy of ensuring that all athletes, at every level, receive unreserved respect both on and off the playing field. Duncan argues that it was a good move that ensured that Shipley competed against local independent schools with similar beliefs and who also place an emphasis on well-rounded student athletes.
But Duncan admits that, along with providing the best facilities, playing fields, coaches, and support staff, he is there as Shipley’s Athletic Director primarily to support the students in attaining the highest level of success on and off the playing field. “We call them student athletes with the emphasis on students first,” he says “They are here to get an excellent education, and we also hope that we can offer all of them a top-notch athletic experience, whether they are a one-sport, two-sport, or three-sport athlete.”
* Please note: Not all of Shipley’s teams participate in the FSL. Our regionally- and nationally-ranked crew and squash programs compete in local and regional events. Girls’ volleyball participates in the fall against local independent and public schools.