Students returning to high school after a long summer break is a time met with excitement for a strong year, but it also brings back stressful situations. One non-profit group in Wellesley, however, plans to continue their work promoting positive actions to combat those stressful feelings.
This fall, Wellesley High School introduced a new after-school intramural sports program for students created by the Community Investors (CI) group in Wellesley. The program, called Raider Intramurals, will organize co-educational games after school that students of all classes can participate in.
Flag football, 3v3 basketball, and open gym/dodgeball will be offered, free of charge, for all students to enjoy this fall.
Joe Roberts, President of CI, looks forward to bringing an inclusive program focused on fun for WHS students to enjoy.
“As parents with kids in our schools, we want to help supplement what the schools offer by creating programs for kids to enjoy active,” Roberts said, “but relaxed play after school.”
Roberts has experience providing kids enjoyable sports experiences.
Since 1991, his Terriers Sports organization has provided a generation of Wellesley kids a variety of programs focused on inclusive play. Sharing the same vision, Raider Intramurals encourages students of all grades, abilities, and experience-levels to, “get in the game”.
“More than ever, it is so important for kids to get together, put their phones away, connect face to face, have fun, relax, and de-stress playing ball,” Roberts said. “High school students are still kids. They need to play and they don’t do it enough these days, so we are going to do everything we can to get them out there.”
After a successful three years building an after school program at Wellesley Middle School (Straight Outta School Sports), Roberts and CI Advisor Chris Cavallerano are ready to offer their program to Wellesley High School.
“It’s amazing to see kids of different abilities, interests and backgrounds all enjoy playing together,” said Cavallerano.
Students will referee the games and serve as DJ’s for music, which are staples of the CI model. Teachers also help supervise the programs, developing stronger student-teacher connections outside the classroom.
“We want to create an environment where the high school students will eventually lead and take ownership of the program and make it as great as they want it to be,” Cavallerano said.
The decision to bring these positive experiences to the high school was also fueled by the school’s adoption of the Challenge Success program last year. Challenge Success is an organization whose goal is to, “partner with schools and families to provide kids with the academic, social, and emotional skills needed to succeed now and in the future,” according to their mission statement.
Part of Challenge Success’ strategy for a more mentally and socially sound education experience is implementing more time to play.
“It’s refreshing to get kids out of competitive mode and into community mode, get them away from technology and connecting with each other personally,” Cavallerano said. “We get ahead of a lot of problems doing something as simple as just getting them to play ball together.”
In addition, Wellesley High School Principal Dr. Jamie Chisum saw Raider Intramurals as a clear and necessary way to provide students with another way to play.
“For me, Raider Intramurals is about the fundamental message that it’s okay for high school kids to have fun occasionally and be kids and play. You don’t have to be the best athlete in the world, it’s just about hanging out with people and having a good time,” Chisum said. “I hope it becomes a place where kids can do something fun and get out energy in a positive way.”
Roberts acknowledged that a program like this may take time to establish and become a program all students are aware of, meaning he and the rest of CI have a long-term approach for building Raider Intramurals.
“We hope we can build this into being a major part of what the students at the high school look forward to,” Roberts said. “Enjoying [it] as an after school activity as a way to connect with other students and create both a supplement and alternative to interscholastic athletics. We want kids to know that there’s always a place for them to play ball.”
The program will begin on September 12 and continue through the end of October.