KMS revolutionizes the integration of athletics and academics

September 21, 2018

By virtue of attending Killington Mountain School and engaging in the program's high-level athletics, KMS student-athletes are participants in the ultimate project-based learning experience. Through a systematic and purposeful design, their athletic and academic lives become intertwined; KMS student-athletes live what they love and become self-motivated, highly skilled individuals. In this era of project-based learning, the school's faculty has decided to take this one step further by truly making athletics a significant part of the students’ academic day. Learning to be analytical, to understand not just the “how” and “when” of athletic development, but also the “why”, has led to an evolution of our curriculum at the Killington Mountain School.
 
Last June, the KMS academic and athletic faculty collaborated on a new course of study titled, “The Self-Actualized Athlete.” The self-actualization course is now the tangible place where athletics and academics interconnect. The faculty has defined self-actualized athletes as those who are motivated, knowledgeable, mindful, coachable, resilient, structured, process-oriented, accountable have “buy-in”, understand the whys behind the process, and are able to engage in self-reflection. The ultimate self-actualized athlete is able to reach his/her full potential and is cognizant of how she/he got to that place.
 
This cross-disciplinary, team-taught course is facilitated by KMS coaches and teachers, as well as several mind and body experts on the school's staff. The course will make use of data and analytics, and serve to formalize and mindfully integrate the athletic and academic pursuits of the KMS student-athlete. 

 

US Ski and Snowboard's National Director of Sport Education, Gar Trayner, commented on the school's initiative, "I am very excited that KMS has created this pioneering course, stacked full of very relevant content that bridges athletic development and sports performance with academia. This course will empower athletes with a true understanding of how why and when we do things athletically, and I am certain that this cutting edge approach to education and athletics will have direct performance results for athletes."

 

 All full-term KMS student-athletes in every grade will take this full credit course each year. Aspects of the curriculum will also be taught to winter-term students as they work with their coaches, through workshops, and via one-to-one/small group work. The class will meet remotely via Google Classroom for fall and spring, in groups in the winter, and will include larger meetings as well as one-to-one, individualized work throughout the year. The course will be organized in units covering the analysis of the physical self (nutrition/biomechanics) followed by an examination of the internal self (mental training and mindfulness) and will culminate with an examination of coaching and teaching “101’s” (coaching and learning styles).
 
In addition to the daily data tracking KMS athletes are already completing for their sport, this course will also teach them to track a variety of data including the completion of sleep and nutrition logs. Students will then be tasked to create monthly reports that synthesize their own individual data and monthly performance, and to submit them via the Self-Actualization Google Classroom. Coaches, teachers and mind/body wellness instructors will help guide the students in self-analysis and in making sense of the data, giving them the tools to understand the “why”, and also to make constructive changes wherever necessary. These reports will in turn, be added to the athletes’ iAmp’s [Individual Athlete Management Plans], giving more form and function to the strength and conditioning grades, and reinforcing the whys of what they are doing, which will directly translate to greater ownership, retention, and implementation of skills.
 
Coming on board to work alongside the school's incredible coaching and teaching staff, KMS is excited to work with three experts in the field of mind and body wellness to help execute this course:
 
Keith Wilford: This is Keith's second year at KMS and the school is thrilled to welcome him back. He spent time working with all students and faculty during the first few days of school, and he will return to campus this year on a monthly basis. 
 
Keith, via sharing his athletic and personal journey with his audience, asks young athletes to consider who they are beyond the boundaries of their individual sports. He makes himself vulnerable, in turn allowing others to follow in kind, and ultimately enhances a sense of self-reflection, of team, and of purpose. Keith works with top colleges, universities, and academies across the country, including Princeton University, Boston College, Colby College, Deerfield School, Phillips Exeter Academy, among many others.
 
Keith will work with students primarily on units that pertain to mindfulness, mental training, and coaching/learning styles.
 
Jill Blondek: Jill is a personal trainer and nutrition consultant, as well a KMS parent. A competitive athlete in both tennis and swimming, Jill is also an avid skier. She attended UMaine Orono where she spent many of her weekends skiing at Sugarloaf.
 
Jill helped start Future Shapes Inc., a successful private personal training and athletic development studio, in Newton, MA in 1998. She also co-owned a studio in Wellesley, and has been the trainer and nutritional manager of the overall business for 20 plus years. Future Shapes caters to all levels of training, however Jill’s clientele are centered around higher athletic performance.
 
Jill’s primary interest lies in working with athletes who understand the relationship of food intake and training/competing. She believes instilling a nutritional and strength/endurance training foundation at an early age is paramount for athletic success.  She educates athletes on the proper combination of foods and hydration to optimize their performance on training day or race day, and on fueling for recovery.
 
Jill will work with KMS students to understand proper nutrition, sleep, recovery and hydration, and even more importantly, to educate them on the rationale behind healthy choices as they pertain to the achievement of the athletes’ overall athletic goals.
 
Anna Terry:  (LMT, E-RYT & NASM-CPT)  Anna has a background in both high-level athletic competition and in working directly with a wide variety of elite athletes and coaches. She is owner of Anna Terry / bodyKinesis, LLC, and served as Director of Integrative Health at Dartmouth College Athletics from 2011-2016. In addition, Anna was the founder and creator of DP2 Massage and Mobility Programming for Athletes at Dartmouth College. Anna is a board certified & licensed massage and manual therapist, a yoga instructor trainer and educator, and a NASM personal trainer with a focus on Injury prevention and rehabilitation. Additionally, Anna was a member of the USA National Team in Whitewater Kayak Slalom.
 
Anna’s specialty and passion lies in working with all athletes to “prehab” for their sports, building strength and proper movement patterns to help enhance performance and reduce the occurrence of injury. In addition, she works with athletes to eliminate pain and discomfort from acute and chronic issues. Anna does this by assessing each athlete as an individual, and employs hands-on assessment, massage, yoga, movement, and manual therapy to get her clients feeling better on track to achieve their goals and stay healthy.
 
Anna will work with students both in and out of the gym to help them understand the individual needs and movement patterns of their bodies, helping them to address any weaknesses and to ultimately cultivate lifelong wellness and attainment of their goals. She will also work with coaches to identify any systemic weaknesses in our athletes, and collaborate to devise training and conditioning plans that will address these areas.
 
Many may have read Dr. Jim Taylor’s recent article about how being physically well-trained isn’t enough to attain success in one’s sport. He goes on to explain that athletes who are truly successful understand the “whys” behind what they do, and the importance of physical, technical and tactical skills, mental aspects of training, as well as the critical nature of nutrition and sleep. The KMS faculty shares that they couldn’t have been more excited and interested to read this article and to hear Dr.Taylor identifying as key to success the very concepts they'd identified as components of the Self-Actualization course. The school wholeheartedly agree with his assessment of the path to success, and is thrilled to offer this curriculum to KMS students in a formalized way this year, and for years to come.
 
Of course, much of what is included in this class is what KMS student-athletes have been learning for many years by virtue of participation in their respective sports; the KMS faculty are world-class experts in their fields, and have been imparting their knowledge and experience to the students through the course of their daily interactions. However, this content will now be structured and packaged in a way that will force students  to purposefully evaluate what they are doing from a variety of perspectives, and at a highly evolved level of consciousness.

 

With students already completing nutrition logs as part of the course's opening assignments, they can be heard in the hallways and dining room discussing among their peers and faculty, elements of proper fueling and hydration for optimal performance. These conversations highlight the immediate benefits of the new Self-Actualization curriculum; it is one thing to tell students what they should do, and yet quite another to guide them down a self-chosen path that will help them attain their goals. Understanding the why's behind choices and the impact of them creates a type of buy-in that no lecture can ever impart, no matter how great the expert delivering it. The school is eager to take part in the journey of its increasingly self-actualized student body as they enter the 2018-2019 season! 
 

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