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Boarding School Sports: A Guide

If you’re reading this, you likely have questions about boarding school sports and whether it’s the right for you. We at Cheshire Academy have a lot of experience on the subject and have created a boarding school sports guide to help you in your decision making.

What’s offered?

For many students, they assume a boarding school offers all the major sports one might expect, including basketball, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball and more. However, it’s important with boarding schools to visit their website or speak with someone in the athletic department to confirm the sport you’re interested in being offered at the school. Boarding schools will often times change their offerings from year to year depending on the number of student-athletes interested in playing. While the varsity level sports are usually always offered, it’s a good idea to inquire for more information. Even varsity sports, like volleyball, may only be offered for one gender. Again, take the time to do your research and make sure the sport you really want to play is available at the school’s you’re researching.

At Cheshire Academy, we list all our offerings on our website under Team Pages. Most other schools do, as well, which makes researching boarding school sports easy.

Are their other athletic requirements?

Unlike public schools, boarding schools usually make their student-athletes participate in more than one sport. The idea is to give students a rounded level of activity and learn about teamwork and discipline across multiple sports. We oftentimes see varsity players of one sport then playing another varsity sport or junior varsity sport during another season. Each boarding school is different, so it’s important to understand what the additional athletic requirements are for each of the schools you’re thinking about attending. For example, at Cheshire Academy, we require students to play two sports out of three seasons. Students can take another athletic option in their third season, or they can participate in an activity like Community Service or Yearbook, which is not necessarily athletic in nature.

Who’s your coach?

You’ve found a great school, it offers your sport and they have had a great record over the years, but what about the coach? It goes without saying that you should always make sure you get along with the coach before committing to any school. You’ll be spending a lot of time with this individual and you want to ensure that you’re both on the same page. For some, it’s not about getting along, but rather understanding and believing in a coaching style or approach to the game.

In addition, if you’re thinking you will want to play a sport in college, then it’s important to know how your coach will approach helping you with college recruitment. Often times, boarding school coaches will have relationships with certain college or university teams and can make introductions, pass along game video, or arrange visits. You can find more information on this specific topic in our “How to choose the best boarding school for your sport” article.

What league will you play in?

Another unique aspect of boarding schools is that, for the most part, different sports play in different divisions and even leagues. While varsity boys basketball might be Class A in the New England Preparatory School Association Conference, the varsity lacrosse team might be Class B in the same league. The division and league you play in can be a big piece of the puzzle if you’re looking to play at the collegiate level. However, it’s not the most important. For most student-athletes, you’ll want to play in the most competitive league you can to gain the attention of college coaches. Ask the school or coach about the league they play in, their history in it, and what the future might hold if you decide to attend the school.

Where have past players gone to college?

Boarding schools are very good at highlighting where their students attend college or university once they graduate (the list of where our students went on to play recently is here in this article). One of the major benefits to attending a boarding school is becoming a stellar student and having your pick of where to go after high school. The same can hold true for athletics at a boarding school. Take some time to research where other student-athletes who have graduated went to school to play a sport. If you’re interested in playing after high school, this can be a great indicator if the boarding school you attend is the right fit for you. In addition to where alumni might have played, look at what scholarships they received or special programs they were entered into when they started. For many, it’s not just the specific school, but also how athletics can help financially at the next level.

Have you visited?

I know this might be a duh question, but you’d be surprised how many students are convinced they want to play at a particular boarding school without even visiting. Boarding schools might look great from their website, social media accounts, and even talking to the coach on the phone, but it’s imperative to visit the campus and make sure you have a good feeling while you’re there. Of course, you’ll be visiting for interviews and what not as you still need to get into the school officially, but during your research phase try to visit as many campuses as possible. Walk around the campus, talk to some students, faculty and staff, and trust your gut.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our short guide on boarding school sports. If you have any specific questions about any of the questions above, feel free to reach out to us at We are happy to answer any questions or connect you with someone at Cheshire Academy who can!


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Cody Barbierri

Written by Cody Barbierri

Experienced social media, public relations, and content expert with more than 10 years experience helping brands drive growth, increase engagement, and build loyalty.

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