School athletics create a lot of cliches. “There’s no I in team,” “attitude is everything,” and “leave it all on the field” come to mind. But like all cliches, there’s a high degree of truth that has made them so ingrained in our minds.
At Canyon Ridge Middle School, where my son, Ryan, attended years ago, you could see those slogans come to life. You could see his football team rally around each other. And there was a clear sense of team and community and common goals.
That’s a beautiful thing for our kids, and it helps them in the long run.
Just as Canyon Ridge Middle School’s advanced academic programs prepared my son for high school and college, its athletic programs — football and track — pushed him to be in peak physical condition and equipped him with teamwork and leadership skills.
We owe a lot of that strong experience to Coach Seth Simmons, who has led our Eagles in football and track since Canyon Ridge opened in 2004. He’s a role model to our kids, and an exceptional coach who has led their teams to many Leander ISD district championships.
Coach tends to give all the credit to the kids, however.
“We have very high participation in sports,” Coach Simmons said. “It’s our students. We have great kids who work really hard, and they’ve had a lot of success.”
Kids can enter cross country, volleyball, football, basketball, track and field and soccer at Canyon Ridge starting in 7th grade. And, trust me, the parents and the community at Steiner Ranch rally around our Eagles. The bleachers fill up, the kids run around playing and it gives many of us an opportunity to meet neighbors and socialize.
In middle school, it’s not so much about winning — though we all love to win. It’s about how the kids learn to work together and how it prepares them down the line. It’s about how students learn to socialize across their usual circles. And it’s about creating discipline and good habits.
When you talk with Coach Simmons, it’s easy to see how he has been so successful both as a coach on the field and a friend and mentor to students.
“A big part of it is teaching life lessons through athletics,” Coach Simmons told me. “The students learn about teamwork and hard work and how to deal with success and how to deal with failure.”
In the business world, I think we often turn to sports analogies to help encapsulate a particular thought. It’s not coincidence. Athletics, as trivial as they may seem at times if you watch too much ESPN, are a huge part of American culture. So when we’re confident about the next big sale or project, we often say it’s a slam dunk. When we pull it off, it was a homerun.
We connect with sports, especially those of us who played a little in school or beyond, because it’s a common experience. And the effort, skills and discipline that go into athletics have endless applications in our day-to-day lives at work and at home.
It’s a blessing to have a program like Canyon Ridge with a coach like Coach Simmons. It gives our children here in Steiner Ranch another leg up, and it gives us a team we can all root for.