A coeducational day school serving students JK-12

Through the Lens of Athletics: A Mental Approach to Sports

 

Join Latin’s Director of Athletics, Kirsten Richter, to learn about the mental approach to sports and how students can take these skills from basketball court to Wall Street.

TRANSCRIPT

I think athletics is such a powerful learning environment. It has the feeling of high stakes. Individuals can learn so much about themselves while also learning how to interact with their teammates.It feels high stakes. We want to win. We really want to achieve competitive excellence. But when we fall a little bit short of that, we can redouble our efforts and learn from that and get even better. A lot of times in sports will say we got to be resilient or be gritty. 100% agree. But how do we actually do that? We want the students who have learned these skills in this setting where we can take time and get better and learn and grow. And now we want that student to be able to take this forward with them when it is high stakes, high risk. Brain surgery, Wall Street trader, you name it. But they've developed this and they can use this to the benefit of their career and the benefit of those around them.

My name is Kirsten Richter, and I am the director of athletics here at Latin. The bulk of my professional background is in higher ed. I was fortunate to coach college basketball for 17-18 years. For seven years, I was an assistant at two different institutions. I spent ten years as a head coach and I got to do a lot of different administrative things and take on different administrative responsibilities, both in athletics and broader across campus, including some leadership development work.

I think athletics is such a powerful learning environment. It has the feeling of high stakes. Individuals can learn so much about themselves while also learning how to interact with their teammates. I could rattle off a whole list of things I think you can learn through competitive sports, but resiliency communication skills, giving and receiving feedback, the way in which you interact with someone, verbally, body language. There are so many nuances to it. And I think really what makes it special and unique is that it has the feeling of high stakes but with relatively low risk. So you get to practice all these skills and make mistakes and learn and do better and fail, really without too much on the line. So it feels high stakes. We want to win, we really want to achieve competitive excellence. But when we fall a little short of that, we can redouble our efforts and learn from that and get even better.

So I just think there's so much learning that can come from athletics participation. I think a big building block to the mental approach to sports, and that really fuels all that. Learning through sport is the approach outcome response cycle. So we all control how we approach a task. We don't always control the outcome, but then we always control how we respond to that outcome.

We want to win, we really want to achieve competitive excellence. But when we fall a little short of that, we can redouble our efforts and learn from that and get even better.So when you think about it through the lens of athletics, we want to think about it sort of in the smallest pieces. So not how I approach the game. Win, lose, how do I respond to winning or losing much smaller? So within a game, that cycle is happening dozens and dozens of times. So they start feeding each other. So how I approach something, the outcome doesn't go my way. Okay, now how am I going to respond? Because that's going to feed into the next approach to the next thing.

So in more tangible terms, a simple example is like a foul shot. So there's a thing called a foul shot routine. So everybody is the same thing before foul shot. That's controlling the approach outcome doesn't always go in, right? So in a big moment that's going to sting. But then what's the response? And then that feeds the next approach. So you can sort of play this out and see how this happens over and over and over. And then how a student can control that really then starts to affect their performance in a positive or negative way. And then think beyond that. I'm doing this for myself and my individual tasks. But now think about those around me. So how my approach and my response? If I'm doing that well, that's going to affect the approach and the response of the people around me.

So you start to see the team dynamics and how that's at play. And it's just a powerful concept because it can affect so much change. And I think that's important because a lot of times in sports will say how we got to be resilient or be gritty. 100% agree. But how do we actually do that, being resilient? How? So I think this is a great building block to that because this is how we can be resilient and how we can be gritty and how we can persevere. This mental approach I think has so many applications outside athletics.

So I think some of my proudest moments as a coach when I saw students really grow and learn in that mental approach, whether it was I can think of a student who sort of grew tremendously over four years and found her voice and gained confidence.Think about a student in an academic setting, the approach, how I'm studying for an exam or how I'm preparing to write a paper. The outcome. Maybe I fall a little short of my goal in that test or I didn't sort of nail that paper. How do I respond? Same concept, even smaller. Like within a class setting. I go to the board. I think I have this math problem figured out. I didn't quite get it. This happened to me all the time in high school, right? Okay, so now how do I respond? Am I embarrassed? How am I going to feel about doing the next problem? Right? There are so many applications of that. And then as students enter college and then the workforce, this certainly has applications professionally, professional, day to day setting, meetings, interactions with colleagues can go on and on. But you can see how this sort of building block of the approach outcome, response cycle can easily be put into effect in those settings as well.

And I think, again, going back to the learning environment, that's why this is such a special learning environment because as students can practice this in that setting and then 20 years from now be so well versed at it that they can take it into their professional setting. And really too, you can perform at a high level because of their ability to do this. When you're learning this in athletic setting, again, it feels high stakes, relatively low risk. So you really have the opportunity to build this and grow this skill and it translates into the workplace. So picture of student 20 years down the line now in brain surgery, super high stakes, super high risk, right? So we want the students who have learned these skills in this setting where we can take time and get better and learn and grow. And now we want that student to be able to take this forward with them when it is high stakes, high risk, brain surgery, wall street trader, you name it, but they've developed this and they can use this to the benefit of their career and the benefit of those around them.

A coach can have a profound role in teaching the mental approach to sports to students. Certainly coaches are adapted teaching sports specific skills to their students, but to really maximize students' ability to perform those skills, we want to have that parallel track of that mental approach.

So I think some of my proudest moments as a coach when I saw students really grow and learn in that mental approach, whether it was I can think of a student who sort of grew tremendously over four years and found her voice and gained confidence. And a lot of that was because of the mental approach that she developed. I can think of another student who is always confidence was not her, she was not lacking confidence, right? But it was her ability to sort of navigate team dynamics and communicate with teammates that had to grow in nuance. And she was able to do that tremendously by her senior year in the way that she knew how to sort of respond to some things one way, how to respond to something else a little bit differently, how she approach something with one teammate would be different from how she approached something with another teammate. And so much of that is just the mental approach to team dynamics in sport. And now they're young adults and they can take that with them into their professional careers. 

  • Athletics
  • Features
  • Podcast
Through the Lens of Athletics: A Mental Approach to Sports

 

Join Latin’s Director of Athletics, Kirsten Richter, to learn about the mental approach to sports and how students can take these skills from basketball court to Wall Street.

TRANSCRIPT

I think athletics is such a powerful learning environment. It has the feeling of high stakes. Individuals can learn so much about themselves while also learning how to interact with their teammates.It feels high stakes. We want to win. We really want to achieve competitive excellence. But when we fall a little bit short of that, we can redouble our efforts and learn from that and get even better. A lot of times in sports will say we got to be resilient or be gritty. 100% agree. But how do we actually do that? We want the students who have learned these skills in this setting where we can take time and get better and learn and grow. And now we want that student to be able to take this forward with them when it is high stakes, high risk. Brain surgery, Wall Street trader, you name it. But they've developed this and they can use this to the benefit of their career and the benefit of those around them.

My name is Kirsten Richter, and I am the director of athletics here at Latin. The bulk of my professional background is in higher ed. I was fortunate to coach college basketball for 17-18 years. For seven years, I was an assistant at two different institutions. I spent ten years as a head coach and I got to do a lot of different administrative things and take on different administrative responsibilities, both in athletics and broader across campus, including some leadership development work.

I think athletics is such a powerful learning environment. It has the feeling of high stakes. Individuals can learn so much about themselves while also learning how to interact with their teammates. I could rattle off a whole list of things I think you can learn through competitive sports, but resiliency communication skills, giving and receiving feedback, the way in which you interact with someone, verbally, body language. There are so many nuances to it. And I think really what makes it special and unique is that it has the feeling of high stakes but with relatively low risk. So you get to practice all these skills and make mistakes and learn and do better and fail, really without too much on the line. So it feels high stakes. We want to win, we really want to achieve competitive excellence. But when we fall a little short of that, we can redouble our efforts and learn from that and get even better.

So I just think there's so much learning that can come from athletics participation. I think a big building block to the mental approach to sports, and that really fuels all that. Learning through sport is the approach outcome response cycle. So we all control how we approach a task. We don't always control the outcome, but then we always control how we respond to that outcome.

We want to win, we really want to achieve competitive excellence. But when we fall a little short of that, we can redouble our efforts and learn from that and get even better.So when you think about it through the lens of athletics, we want to think about it sort of in the smallest pieces. So not how I approach the game. Win, lose, how do I respond to winning or losing much smaller? So within a game, that cycle is happening dozens and dozens of times. So they start feeding each other. So how I approach something, the outcome doesn't go my way. Okay, now how am I going to respond? Because that's going to feed into the next approach to the next thing.

So in more tangible terms, a simple example is like a foul shot. So there's a thing called a foul shot routine. So everybody is the same thing before foul shot. That's controlling the approach outcome doesn't always go in, right? So in a big moment that's going to sting. But then what's the response? And then that feeds the next approach. So you can sort of play this out and see how this happens over and over and over. And then how a student can control that really then starts to affect their performance in a positive or negative way. And then think beyond that. I'm doing this for myself and my individual tasks. But now think about those around me. So how my approach and my response? If I'm doing that well, that's going to affect the approach and the response of the people around me.

So you start to see the team dynamics and how that's at play. And it's just a powerful concept because it can affect so much change. And I think that's important because a lot of times in sports will say how we got to be resilient or be gritty. 100% agree. But how do we actually do that, being resilient? How? So I think this is a great building block to that because this is how we can be resilient and how we can be gritty and how we can persevere. This mental approach I think has so many applications outside athletics.

So I think some of my proudest moments as a coach when I saw students really grow and learn in that mental approach, whether it was I can think of a student who sort of grew tremendously over four years and found her voice and gained confidence.Think about a student in an academic setting, the approach, how I'm studying for an exam or how I'm preparing to write a paper. The outcome. Maybe I fall a little short of my goal in that test or I didn't sort of nail that paper. How do I respond? Same concept, even smaller. Like within a class setting. I go to the board. I think I have this math problem figured out. I didn't quite get it. This happened to me all the time in high school, right? Okay, so now how do I respond? Am I embarrassed? How am I going to feel about doing the next problem? Right? There are so many applications of that. And then as students enter college and then the workforce, this certainly has applications professionally, professional, day to day setting, meetings, interactions with colleagues can go on and on. But you can see how this sort of building block of the approach outcome, response cycle can easily be put into effect in those settings as well.

And I think, again, going back to the learning environment, that's why this is such a special learning environment because as students can practice this in that setting and then 20 years from now be so well versed at it that they can take it into their professional setting. And really too, you can perform at a high level because of their ability to do this. When you're learning this in athletic setting, again, it feels high stakes, relatively low risk. So you really have the opportunity to build this and grow this skill and it translates into the workplace. So picture of student 20 years down the line now in brain surgery, super high stakes, super high risk, right? So we want the students who have learned these skills in this setting where we can take time and get better and learn and grow. And now we want that student to be able to take this forward with them when it is high stakes, high risk, brain surgery, wall street trader, you name it, but they've developed this and they can use this to the benefit of their career and the benefit of those around them.

A coach can have a profound role in teaching the mental approach to sports to students. Certainly coaches are adapted teaching sports specific skills to their students, but to really maximize students' ability to perform those skills, we want to have that parallel track of that mental approach.

So I think some of my proudest moments as a coach when I saw students really grow and learn in that mental approach, whether it was I can think of a student who sort of grew tremendously over four years and found her voice and gained confidence. And a lot of that was because of the mental approach that she developed. I can think of another student who is always confidence was not her, she was not lacking confidence, right? But it was her ability to sort of navigate team dynamics and communicate with teammates that had to grow in nuance. And she was able to do that tremendously by her senior year in the way that she knew how to sort of respond to some things one way, how to respond to something else a little bit differently, how she approach something with one teammate would be different from how she approached something with another teammate. And so much of that is just the mental approach to team dynamics in sport. And now they're young adults and they can take that with them into their professional careers. 

Explore Our News & Stories

Latin Vegetable Garden

We are excited to announce the start of Latin School of Chicago’s Vegetable Garden located in the Greenwood Garden. The garden is producing nutritious vegetables this summer, which are being harvested and donated to local organizations for those facing food insecurity. This is one way Latin connects with communities in the city and promotes sustainability.

If you are interested in donating your garden-grown vegetables, please email organizer Helen Jeno at hjeno@latinschool.org and drop the veggies off at Latin’s US front desk on Wednesdays during the summer.

Take a look at our photo gallery here.

To learn more about the garden, please read the mission statement below. 

Latin School of Chicago Vegetable Garden Mission
As part of Latin’s mission to integrate our students into Chicago communities and promote sustainability, the Latin School of Chicago Vegetable Garden is dedicated to building enduring relationships with food-insecure communities in Chicago. We are committed to using Latin’s resources to cultivate healthful food and donate it to local organizations serving those in need. Additionally, we strive to foster mutually beneficial partnerships with these organizations to provide students with valuable insights into urban farming and the systemic disparities contributing to food insecurity.

  • Around School
Latin alum Kent Farrington ’99 represents Team USA in 2024 Paris Olympics

A huge congratulations to Latin alum Kent Farrington ’99 on being one of three Americans who will be competing in equestrian events at the 2024 Paris Olympics!

Farrington, who was born and raised in Chicago, started learning how to ride when he was 8 years old.

This is not the first time Farrington has represented Team USA. He was part of the bronze medal-winning team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and finished 31st in the individual competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

  • Alumni

Below is a list of the faculty and staff members who left Latin at the end of the 2023-24 school year. 

We want to thank them for their hard work and dedicated service on behalf of our school and students, and wish them the best in their future endeavors. 

Upper School

John Brown, History Teacher
Justin Clarke, Counselor
John Layer, French Teacher
Stephanie Stephens, History Teacher (Sabbatical Leave)
Faye Wells, Science Teacher

Middle School

Matt Eighmy, Librarian
Cory Graef, Science Teacher
Michael Hurley, Math Specialist and Math Department Chair
Kia London, Spanish Teacher

Lower School

Alyssa Dudzik, First Grade Lead Teacher
Katie King, Second Grade Lead Teacher

LS Assistant Teachers:

Amara Ball
Lauren Beatty
Kat Behling
Ariel Gomez
Melissa Klein
Jasmine Madrid
Lo Miles
Lauren Ming
Genna Newquist
Carlos Ocampo

Staff

Nick Bennett, Athletics Operations Coordinator
Erin Crowley, School Nurse
Chase Mangoni, Assistant Director of Latin 360
Veronica McCoy, Major Gifts Officer
Justine Venegoni, Lead School Nurse
 

  • Around School
Head of School Yearly Round Up

Dear Latin Community, 

The past several days on campus have been filled with ceremonies and celebrations, hugs and handshakes, and memories and milestones. We completed final assessments and projects; honored students, faculty, and staff for their accomplishments in and out of the classroom; and participated in annual events and activities that mark the end of the school year. We witnessed the transformation of our fourth grade students into middle schoolers, our eighth grade students into high schoolers, and our seniors into proud alums, who are poised to begin the next phase of their lives. 

While there is something somber about seeing the empty hallways, quiet cafeterias, and cleaned-out classrooms, the absence of the persistent buzz and infectious energy in our buildings has provided both the time and opportunity to reflect on our successes from this past year. For example, we made significant progress on the goals and initiatives tied to our strategic plan, including the ongoing alignment of our curricular and co-curricular programs. We continued to cultivate a strong sense of community and belonging through our DEI efforts (e.g., professional development, anti-bias training, affinity groups, etc.). We excelled on the courts and playing fields during all three of our athletic seasons, and had equally amazing results in the performing and visual arts. We helped those in need through volunteerism, service projects, and experiential learning opportunities. In addition, we raised a record $1.8 million during Romans Raise & Revel that will provide critical assistance to students who benefit from financial support. 

None of these achievements would have been possible without the tireless dedication of our faculty, staff, and administrators; the unwavering commitment of our Board of Trustees, Senior Advisory Council, Parent Association and Alumni Association; and the steadfast support of our families. For all of this, we thank you.

When I look ahead to the 2024-25 school year, there is much to be excited about. We will begin the next phase of our strategic planning, invest in priorities that are critical to the success of our students (e.g., health and wellness, technology and innovation, and experiential experiences), and continue working toward a more sustainable future for our School. These are topics we will explore in greater detail this fall.

As we depart for what I hope will be a relaxing summer break, there are a couple things I would like to ask each of us to do. The first is to think about the ways we can further strengthen and affirm our shared values of excellence, community, and integrity. While the good from this year far outweighed the bad, there were instances across our divisions where issues and challenges led us away from these values. With this in mind, I want us to reflect on how we can recommit ourselves to the standards and expectations that help define who we are. I also want us to consider how we can preserve and protect the principles that serve as the guideposts for all we do, and keep them at the center of the efforts we are undertaking to shape the future of our School. 

The second is to carve out ample time to rest, recharge, and reconnect. The stresses and strains of the school year take their toll on everyone. Let’s use the next two months to engage in self-care, focus on our overall health and well-being, and spend as much quality time as possible with friends and families. If we can do these things, I truly believe we will be poised and prepared to accomplish anything we set our minds to when we return in August.

Warm regards, 

Thomas Hagerman
Head of School
 

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