by Will Harmon '20
When asked to define the true St. Albans man, one will receive a variety of responses: “the kind of person who takes the hard right over the easy wrong,” or perhaps “someone with truly good character.” However, more realistically, the St. Albans man is truly a well-rounded person who benefits his society. Through required academic classes, religious studies, and participation on the sports field, this ideal is practiced throughout the school. It goes without saying, then, that if one should be excused from these required points in their education, they cannot truly be a well rounded St. Albans man. The idea of an Independent Practice (known as an IP), consequently, would take away from the school’s ideals, and therefore should not be allowed.
Many St. Albans boys, as with many high school athletes this day and age, are highly specialized in certain sports. This specialization is often the result of the boy’s desire to play his chosen sport in college. This specialization, in turn, leads to elite club teams, which the boys participate in outside of school hours. To secure an exemption from school sports and play solely for their club team, boys will request an IP. While this practice might make sense for some people, it has no place at St. Albans.
The experience of a St. Albans athlete competing for his school is unlike any other. The boys are coached under the values that the school holds dearly, as many St. Albans coaches are often teachers or faculty members at the school. Consequently, the coaches are aware of who and what the St. Albans man truly is, and instill the school’s ideals in the boys. However, should the boys be coached outside of school, they are missing out on a part of the St. Albans education.
Furthermore, when the boys are playing outside of school, they are missing the opportunity to help St. Albans sports teams to victory. The chance to play for an IAC title in any sport is the goal of every St. Albans athlete. Should the boys in an IP elect to play for the school instead, they would be benefitting St. Albans, and for that matter, their classmates.
Lastly, it would be untrue to say that it is impossible to get recruited to play in college if one only plays for St. Albans. For the most part, St. Albans sports are known by many to be strong programs with deep histories. Therefore, any college coach would have a predisposed interest in any St. Albans player simply because of the reputation St. Albans sports has. In the past years, St. Albans has been extremely competitive for the IAC and even the DC area as the best team in many sports, including soccer, hockey, baseball, and lacrosse. This success draws the attention of many college coaches, nullifying the argument that IPs are “necessary for recruiting.”
St. Albans is a school that has for over a century been dedicated to the development of well rounded young men. In a school such as this, the practice of an IP is not beneficial to the school or its students.