Alex Lane talks about Sports at Aysgarth

What is your vision for sports at Aysgarth?

'Sports for all with opportunities for excellence'. Our focus is a broad and balanced curriculum, instilling lifelong involvement in sports. We promote confidence, health, and well-being through our PE & Games programme. Our aim is for each child to develop a passion for a sport or activity, while also enhancing their physical skills. Aysgarth is a top school in the North for sports, expanding fixtures and participating in county, regional, and national tournaments.

How do you ensure that all students are engaged and included in sports activities?

All of the boys spend at least 8 hours within the curriculum on PE, games or individual sports, which includes one PE lesson per week, delivered by me as the Director of Sport along the Games staff who have at least two specialist sports. In addition to curriculum games, pupils are encouraged to participate in the extra squad and team training sessions. Many of our pupils participate in various sports sessions at least once every day. At Aysgarth, we also have a multi-sport programme which activities such as shooting, sailing, badminton, climbing and many more for boys who would rather do those activities than focus more on our traditional sports: rugby, football, hockey, cricket and athletics. 

What strategies do you employ to promote a positive and inclusive sports culture among students?

A variety of sports is the answer. It is so important for children to have a broad and balanced curriculum with lots of sports and activities on offer to them. So many skills are transferable from one sport to the next. The children buy into the culture of our multi sports programme which is not dominated by just the main sports. They need a variety of invasion, net/wall, strike and field, athletic and outdoor adventurous activities to cater for the whole round sporting education. 

How do you encourage students to develop a love for sports and maintain an active lifestyle?

'You only get what you give' is a common saying from our previous Headmaster, Rob Morse. The love of sports needs to be implemented by our fantastic games staff in order for our boys to achieve their outcomes on the sports field. The energy is brought to games sessions every day here at Aysgarth. The boys can't wait for the sessions to start. 

What steps do you take to identify and nurture talented young athletes within the school?

At Aysgarth, many boys achieve Sports Scholarships at their next schools (13+). Daily games provide opportunities for children to participate in their desired sports. We offer strong A-team pathways with quality coaching in rugby, cricket, football, hockey, tennis, and athletics. As the Director of Sport, I work with reputable Senior Schools to ensure excellent sports provision up to age 18. Our Head of Cricket, James Alderson, collaborates with North Yorkshire for talent identification. We have great links with local rugby and cricket clubs, encouraging skill development during free time.

What measures do you take to ensure fair play and sportsmanship among students?

The boys understand that they should serve as outstanding ambassadors for the School. They give their all on match days, but their emotional and social development is equally important. Their conduct before and after matches, interaction with opponents, and displaying grace in victory and defeat are crucial. Fair play and sportsmanship are learned through gestures like handshakes and discussions over match tea. While not all boys may become professional athletes, they acquire important life skills for any career. They learn to handle wins and losses, control emotions, and bounce back from setbacks, building resilience for future endeavours.

Proudest moment as the Director of Sports at Aysgarth?

There have been lots of special moments including coaching talented teams in any of our sports and qualifying for regional or national finals. Individual success at the national Prep School's Cross Country final at Malvern College, providing a competitive and balanced fixture list to challenge our boys. Hosting numerous tournaments including ESCA and IAPS tournaments is a proud part of the job. However, what is really special for me as Director of Sport at Aysgath School is we host an annual internal cross-country event called ' The Aysgarthian'. The whole school is involved in the run including parents and siblings. Numerous records have been broken in the past couple of years and every boy gives their all on the day, regardless of their age or ability. 

What is your favourite Sport and Why?

I personally enjoy playing cricket most. My favourite sport to teach is Athletics because it provides opportunities for individuals of all abilities to participate. Athletics encompasses a wide range of events, including sprints, jumps, throws, and distance running. This variety allows individuals to find an event that suits their strengths and interests, catering to diverse skills and physical abilities. Athletics emphasizes individual performance and personal improvement. With each boy, we can help them set personal goals and work towards achieving them at their own pace. This individualized approach promotes inclusivity by valuing and celebrating progress regardless of performance compared to others.

My best sport is rugby. I have played rugby in the lower national leagues and achieved success as a schoolboy, consistently representing the 'A' or '1st' team. However, my own experience taught me an important lesson. A close friend of mine, who initially started in the Under 12 D team, surpassed my achievements and eventually played for England Under 18 Schoolboys as a Scrum-half. This story emphasizes the significance of recognizing and nurturing potential, as the sky is the limit. My pupils often hear this powerful narrative to inspire them towards cunning, determination, and hard work in all aspects of life, beyond just sports.