Whether you're going to be a ninth grader or have decided to do a postgraduate year, you're here because you've decided that you want to participate in a particular competitive sport. Below we have compiled a guide of how to choose the best boarding school for your sport:
Meet the Coach
Your coach at boarding school will be an important figure in your time at school. Ultimately, you'll end up spending a lot of time with this person between pre-season, the regular season, post season and they could even be one of your teachers! So, you want to ensure you have a positive connection.
When looking at boarding schools, take the time to read up on who your coach will be, call them or shoot them an email, or go visit them. Some coaches will even come visit your home. The idea is to spend more than just a formal visit at the school to ensure that you get along, can see yourself being coached by them, and respect them as a coach.
The last thing you want to do is go to a boarding school where you end up not getting along with the coach. That can make for a long season and even longer four years at high school if you enter as a freshman.
Visit the Facilities
A lot can be told by visiting the boarding school's athletic facilities. Since you'll be spending a good portion of your time at school practicing and conditioning, you'll want to make sure that the playing fields, gyms, weight rooms and more are adequate for you. (For a look at Cheshire Academy's facilities, click here).
Now everyone is different, but ultimately no one wants to be playing on a soccer field where the goal posts are falling down. A formal visit is a great way to be able to get a guided tour around the campus and see everything first hand. We would also recommend setting up a time to visit the team during a game. This way you can see how they prepare before and after the game as well as get to see them in action on the field or court.
You can also inquire about future plans on campus for any new athletic facilities they may be building. Often times, boarding schools will have strategic plans that look 3 to 5 years into the future. In those plans, there could be new facilities planned that could greatly benefit you during your time there.
Meet your Team
While meeting your coach is important, meeting your teammates is also just as important. These are individuals, just like your coach, that you will be spending a lot of time with each day. Other than seniors or postgraduates who might not be there next year, take the time to not only set up formal visits with tour guides, but also more informal campus visits where you can shadow a teammate and even spend the night with them. What better way to see how the team interacts and their personalities than to spend the day and night with them, especially on a game day.
Academics Come First
For most of us, while we want to play a competitive sport in high school, the likelihood that we will become a professional in that sport is less than one percent (for more on that, check out or post on the myth of the college athletic scholarship).
With that in mind, it's important to look at the totality of the school, not just athletics, when choosing a boarding school. You'll want to attend a school that fits where you are as a student and works to take you beyond where you thought you could go. Make sure its focus is on the student.
Similarly to having a formal visit for athletic purposes, also take the time to understand the school's academic coursework. Do they have AP or IB courses? What colleges or universities do their graduates end up going to each year? How does the school, whether academics, athletics, or college counseling support their students needs?
At the end of the day, your personal relationships will be a leader in deciding what boarding school you should attend, but always remember to look to the future too and pick a school that will mold you into a college bound and successful individual in the near future. If you're planning on applying to boarding school specifically for athletics, check out our FREE guide to making a highlight reel to send to coaches.