Global and Local Sports in PE

When Upper School Physical Education teacher Tyler Heidtke had the opportunity to propose new course offerings, he delivered.

Seeking fun and innovative alternatives to the long-standing Team Sports course, Heidtke used global and local resources to develop two options: World Sports and Recreational Games, both available for the first time during the 2022–23 year.

In World Sports, students explore variations of sports that are popular in other parts of the world, including, but not limited to, rugby, cricket, sepak takraw (a Malaysian version of foot volleyball) and team handball. In Recreational Games, students learn, play and develop strategies for myriad different backyard and/or beach games, including Bags (cornhole), Spikeball, Kan Jam, Kubb, Bocce, Hunnyball and more.

Describing his process in coming up with these new offerings, Heidtke said, “It’s a great opportunity for students to step outside of what we think of as American sports, recognize that other sports exist in other cultures and engage in fun, unique and challenging games and activities. My hope is that this exposure will generate interest in different types of physical activity down the road.”

While some students have become familiar with the game of cricket thanks to Heidtke’s World Sports class, there are others at the school who have a pre-existing passion for the game. One such student, a 1st grader named Arjun, felt so strongly about the sport that he worked with 1st grade teacher Beth Joebgen to arrange a meeting with Principal Dan Frank. Arjun spoke about his love of the sport and asked Dr. Frank to consider bringing cricket to the school.

Dr. Frank shared news of this meeting with the administrative team, and, knowing about the new PE offerings in the Upper School, Communications Director Nick Saracino reached out to Joebgen and Heidtke to make a curricular connection wherein Arjun could guest-teach the World Sports class.

Arjun arrived at school early for the class, since Upper School students begin their day earlier than their Lower School peers, but there was nothing but pep in his step as he joined Heidtke’s class in the Draft Gym on a Thursday morning. Heidtke briefly introduced the guest teacher before Arjun shared his love for cricket with his older peers. He described how he first became acquainted with the sport, the teams he loves to watch and follow each season and even how he and his friends play pickup games with one another after school. He welcomed questions from the students and commented on the equipment the game requires, the various positions on a team, the numerous ways one can get out in a game and the varied length of play, among other details.

Arjun also enjoyed some cricket-playing fun with his peers, bowling and hitting with his newly minted Upper School friends.

Heidtke noted, “It was such an amazing experience for everyone involved. Arjun was certainly in his wheelhouse when discussing and playing cricket. My class really enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions and bat/bowl Ear-to-ear smiles all around!”

Joebgen added, “I love that we have opportunities for students across divisions to make connections at Parker. Giving them a platform to share their passions and interests with each other allows them to shine as their authentic selves.”

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.