Since the dawn of the home schooling movement in America, the question has been asked: “Can home schoolers compete academically with their brick-and-mortar counterparts?” Since every serious study has supported home schooling in that regard, you don’t hear the question much these days. Perhaps more readily seeing the value of sports in their sons’ lives, fathers have continued to ask a different question: “Can home schoolers compete athletically with their brick-and-mortar counterparts?”
Fathers, home schooled children are answering that question every day.
Michael Beasley, who was recently signed by the Miami Heat after a year at Kansas State University, is a former home schooled student who was once projected as being the first “home school to the NBA” basketball player.
“Home school to the NBA?” Get used to the phrase.
University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is no doubt headed for the NFL, where former home schooler Washington Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor has already found a home. Tim Tebow was home schooled by his parents, Robert and Pam Tebow, whose five home-schooled children have all received college scholarships academically, athletically, or in music. Tim Tebow has won a national championship at Florida, as well as the Heisman Trophy.
On the baseball front, there now exists a Home School World Series Association, whose participants have been signed by the Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins organizations.
Venus and Serena Williams, two of the most accomplished tennis players in history, were home schooled.
Home schooling doesn’t appear to be much of an obstacle for skaters. Seton Home Study School alumnus Ryan Bradley is a three-time U.S. Collegiate skating champion, and a 2007 U.S. Nationals silver medalist. Katherine Hadford, another Seton Home Study School student, is a three-time Hungarian Figure Skating Championship medalist.
In gymnastics, seven-time U.S. National gymnast and Seton Home Study School alumna Katie Heenan just received the 2008 Honda Award as the nation’s top female collegiate gymnast. Katie is currently at the University of Georgia, where she and her team have won the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship. Katie is in good company, as Carly Patterson, the 2004 gymnastics Olympic gold medalist, was also home schooled.
Rather than being a hindrance to athletics, home schooling is increasingly recognized as a boon to athletic life. In a 2005 USA Today article entitled “Elite Take Home-School Route,” author Sal Ruibal suggests that home schooling is the educational method of choice for exceptionally gifted athletes. The article demonstrates that home schooling provides the perfect situation for athletes to excel, as they are not bound by the constraints of the formal-schooling classroom day. In these exceptional cases, home schooling is viewed as the gifted athlete study program.
More commonly, for team sports, there are two athletic roads that a home schooled child can pursue in America today. First, in many cases, he or she can play for the local public school team, as over twenty states now allow home school participation in public school athletic programs. This was the road chosen by the Tebow family, as they wanted Tim to play in a competitive setting.
Second, the student can play in a home school league, where he or she will play alongside other home school students. In the years to come, as home schooling continues to be a growing educational trend in America, and as the estimated number of home schooled students across the country surpasses the two million mark, home school teams will become increasingly common—and increasingly competitive. Many states now have competitive home schooling teams in baseball, football, soccer and basketball.
Those who have home schooled quickly realize that the dedication necessary for high achievement in sports is a natural outgrowth of the lessons learned through home learning. When the Women’s Professional Soccer League kicks off in 2009, you may see Katie Klaas Erikkson driving for a goal. Erikkson, who has already played in the W-League, the highest women’s league in the country, was home schooled.
In an article entitled: “Soccer Kids” on the HSLDA website several years ago, Katie said:
“At public school, I saw kids do the minimal work required to get through classes. At home, we were always taught to work our hardest at things. We were reminded that God commands us to do our best in everything, that we are working for Him and not for people. I think even in soccer you can see the mentality of ‘what’s the least I can do to get by.’ We had the mentality of ‘what’s the most we can do.’ If my coach told me I need to work on something, I would go work on it. We were used to working on our own.”
Katie’s comments suggest a simple notion: that home schooling habits of diligence, perseverance, and goal orientation directly translate to the playing field. As Aristotle observed: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Fathers, on a practical level, try to get involved in home schooling athletic groups in your area. As a father, it should be a source of pride that home schooling programs are producing world-class athletes. Make an effort to get your children involved in these home schooling leagues, and be willing to help coach when you get there! If your children are too young to play in high school leagues, take them to see some local home school league games, illustrate to them that children with their same educational background are excelling on the field athletically as well as off the field academically.
Thanks for reading my articles on fatherhood this year, and thank you for all your kind comments and prayers.
May all you fathers and your families have a Blessed Christmas.