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HIGHLIGHTS & HAPPENINGS Community Villa Sports Program Builds Community in Many Ways St. Ursula Villa’s athletic programs and facilities have grown and developed over the years, benefitting Villa students as well as the larger community. Since their formation, the Villa’s sports programs function within “instructional league” guidelines where students grow by participating in various sports, developing interests and skills, and sharing valuable experiences with classmates. This approach aligns with our school mission and Ursuline characteristic of “emphasis on the development of the whole person.” Villa students are encouraged to try a sport at different ages - to “dabble” at varied points in their development to determine preferences and build skills in a supportive setting. Over the last ten years, St. Ursula Villa added athletic programs for younger students as well as different sports options for other ages. Formed in 2010, Villa “Eaglets” soccer gives preschoolers an early introduction to soccer and exposure to the dynamics of teamwork and cooperation. Basketball is now offered as an internal program geared toward skill development of Villa 1st and 2nd-graders. Villa Tennis and Golf are recent sports options for 6th, 7th, and 8th-graders. St. Ursula Villa values and emphasizes the importance of strong athletic programs that encourage and develop student growth and skills. The Villa’s traditional slate of organized sports includes soccer, baseball, and softball for Kindergarten–Junior High, and basketball and volleyball for 3rd–8th-graders. Students participate in basketball and volleyball try-outs in 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade to form teams placed at either competitive or recreational levels. St. Ursula Villa’s teams balance success with an overall emphasis on teamwork, skill development, and positive experiences. Ms. Kristy Thomas, Villa 3- and 4-year-olds play Eaglets soccer. St. Ursula Villa’s Athletic Director, says “I love to see a player stick with the game and work hard to finally make a basket or get a serve over the net – and is celebrated by the team! It really shows how our coaches support students and their growth.” Villa coaches are a critical part of the athletic program’s success. Coaching provides valuable volunteer opportunities for current and past Villa parents, Villa alumni, and Villa faculty to join the larger St. Ursula Villa community. Trey Savage (Class of ’78) has a unique perspective of Villa sports over the years. “When I was a student at the Villa, most people in the U.S. were unfamiliar with the game of soccer and my team was one of the first Villa soccer teams ever.” Years later as a coach, he says, “When coaching my daughter Ava’s teams, our goal was always to develop players into respectful individuals who win fairly, have fun, and positively represent our school. We taught life lessons and helped them understand the value of competing to the best of your abilities and winning the right way – which is what parents who choose St. Ursula Villa for their children expect of the Villa sports experience.” He describes the strong Villa community and support during the 7th and 8th-grade girls’ semifinal soccer championship in Fairfield where every Villa Junior High teacher cheered from the sidelines on a 28-degree morning, “That’s the Villa community right there.” 13 13