Kickball tournament teaches sportsmanship, teamwork to Roaring Fork District 4th graders |

Kickball tournament teaches sportsmanship, teamwork to Roaring Fork District 4th graders

Area fourth graders rush to get the ball during a Garfield Re-1 kickball tournament held at Sopris Elementary School on Tuesday.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The familiar sounds of children pierced the air Tuesday morning at Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs, as did the sweet sound of foot meeting kickball.

It wasn’t a recess session, though. It was an organized kickball tournament for fourth-graders.

Nine- and 10-year-olds from Glenwood Springs, Sopris, Riverview, Crystal River and Basalt elementary schools competed against each other in a competitive, yet teachable, setting.

More than 80 schoolchildren descended on Sopris Elementary for Tuesday’s tournament, allowing them to get out of school for the day.

While the weather — temperatures in the low 40s and a light drizzle of rain — wasn’t as cooperative as many had hoped, the tournament went on as planned, leading to a fun-filled environment.

“We’ve been planning this for a long time, probably since December,” said Marty Madsen, physical education teacher at Crystal River Elementary in Carbondale. “All of us [teachers] had other crazy responsibilities, but we were able to put it together. The kids are having a blast.”

The tournament, which started at 9:30 a.m. and ran until 12:30 p.m. on the two baseball fields at Sopris Elementary, was as competitive as possible. It also gave the teachers a chance to indoctrinate the students in sportsmanship, leadership and a sense of community.

For some within the group who are already into sports, sportsmanship and leadership are qualities they’ve already been introduced to. But for those who don’t participate in sports, coming into the one-day kickball tournament was a chance to learn those important lessons that sports can impart on competitors.

“That’s the teachable moment right there,” Madsen said. “You’re here to represent your school and represent your class and yourself. This is their exposure to see that.

“Playing kickball at recess against kids you know is one thing, but to play against kids from other local elementary schools that you might not necessarily know is another thing. It’s good to expose the kids to this type of environment early, where it’s a teachable moment while having some great fun.”

Aside from teaching the students important life qualities through kickball, it was also a chance for the five elementary school teachers to establish an early sense of community. While the schools are only separated by less than 25 miles, there’s not a lot of interaction between the five schools that come under the Roaring Fork District umbrella.

Madsen, Sopris Elementary’s Fred Heisel and the rest of the physical education teachers set out to change that through sports.

“That community aspect had a big impact on how we put this together,” Madsen said. “It’s all about community. We might be three different towns, but we’re one school district. To expose the kids to this type of environment early on and to get them to realize that we’re all one community was really important to us. We’re a small community, but we’re one.”

The tournament wasn’t a typical field trip for the fourth-graders, but it was one that its organizers hope will leave a lasting impact.

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