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Medfield hosts youth sports discussion

Superintendent Jeffrey Marsden has announced that the Medfield Public Schools recently held a panel discussion with prominent local athletes and industry experts on the topic of youth sports participation.

The discussion, “Help Your Young Athlete Win the Race: Finding Balance in Youth Sports,” was held Monday, October 28, at the Blake Middle School library. The event was sponsored by Medfield’s Challenge Success Parent Group.

“It was great to see so many parents from the community come together for this very important discussion,” Superintendent Marsden said. “Athletics provide a variety of benefits to our students, but we must all be on the same page when it comes to student safety and how to best balance sports with everything else that is going on in our students’ busy lives.”

Topics raised at the discussion included how parents can best support children who play sports, how much participation is too much, how student athletes can balance sports with their academic and family lives and understanding the risks of overuse injuries.

The event was well attended by about 90 people, and was well received with many follow up comments and questions.

The evening opened with a screening of the TEDTalk, "The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports," followed by brief presentations and a discussion with a panel that included: Mimi Borkan, Carl Gustafson, two-time World Cup champion Kristine Lilly, and 1988 Olympic Games silver medalist Janel Jorgensen McArdle. The discussion was moderated by David Worthley, Director of Social-Emotional Learning (RISE) at Medfield High School.

“We are fortunate to have so many experts right here in Medfield that made this evening possible,” Superintendent Marsden said. “From local World Cup and Olympic champions to our highly engaged group of parents, this discussion was a collaboration from many of the stakeholders in town who care about the well-being of our students."

The youth sports discussion is the latest in a series of initiatives since Medfield Public Schools partnered with Challenge Success in the spring of 2018. Nicki Gustafson, one of the parent representatives on the district's Challenge Success team, said the discussion is part of the group’s broader goal to reduce stress and anxiety that is on the rise in students.

“Youth sports were designed to be fun, not an added pressure in the day,” Gustafson continued. “The athletes on the panel spoke about their journey to success and how self-driven they were in their journeys and how they did not feel parental or societal pressure. And we were fortunate to have a physical therapist be able to speak about overuse injuries and how to prevent them, as well as red flags to look for when a sport has become too intense or an athlete unhappy.”

Fellow parent representative Kristen Careau said a major take-away from the discussion was that success is less stressful to attain when it is defined by happiness.

“Challenging the way ‘success’ is measured is the core concept of Challenge Success, and we’re very pleased that so many parents chose to attend this important discussion of how they can help their children achieve a healthy, happy approach to youth sports,” Careau said. “Personally, I felt a connection to the reminder that what works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another child, even within the same family.”

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