Partnership Melds Educational, Athletic Academies
Partnership Melds Educational, Athletic Academies
April 2012, Cleveland Business Connects
By Tracey Walker, Photo by Jim Baron
For parents, selecting a school for their children is one of the most challenging and difficult decisions they must make. Even more intimidating can be choosing an independent school. As parents evaluate what school will best meet the needs of the child’s interests and academic abilities, they are also looking at the value in the investment of tuition and the long-term return it will have for their student’s future.
Partnerships such as that enjoyed between Andrews Osborne Academy (AOA ) and SPIRE Institute provide the best of both worlds for student athletes — to integrate sports and education, training and learning, and performance and competition.
AOA is a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, coeducational day and boarding academy in Willoughby. Geneva-based SPIRE Institute is one of the largest indoor, multi-sport (swimming, soccer, volleyball, basketball, and track and field), wellness, training and competition complexes in the world.
SPIRE, which is launching a post graduate sports training academy this fall, initially planned to launch its own integrated high school and sports training program in the fall of 2013. “We realized that it was simply going to take too long before we would be able to accept high school students alongside the post grad athletes coming to our campus this fall,” Ron Clutter, the founder of SPIRE , says.
Fortunately, AOA Head of School Chuck Roman had often expressed an interest in working with SPIRE.
“After my initial visit to SPIRE last year, I was so impressed with the facilities, the leadership’s vision for the programming, and the incomparable opportunity for all student athletes that I wanted to explore the possibilities of collaborating in some manner,” Roman says.
“The more we toured and researched AOA ,” Clutter adds, “the more impressed we became with their staff and campus and their passion and commitment to their students.”
SPIRE offers 750,000 square feet of Olympic grade indoor facilities, including one of the biggest indoor and outdoor track and field complexes in the country, a multi-purpose court surface that can feature 12 volleyball or nine basketball courts, two full-size turf soccer/lacrosse fields, an Olympic-size 50-meter pool, and a 10,000-seat outdoor stadium with a multipurpose turf field.
“While the concept of AOA providing the academic portion of the SPIRE Academy curriculum was not initially on our minds, it became evident that AOA and SPIRE had much to gain by collaborating,” Roman says.
Founded more than 100 years ago, AOA educates nearly 400 students annually from 47 Ohio cities, 10 states, and 20 countries. The campus includes more than 300 acres and boasts four state-of-the-art academic buildings, a modern field house and observatory, multiple multi-purpose sports fields, an equestrian center unparalleled by any other high school program nationally, and seven homes in which boarders live. Faculty housing also spans the perimeter of the campus, allowing teachers and students the opportunity to build strong interactive relationships, which facilitates a positive residential-life experience for students who are living far from home.
As the academic partner for SPIRE Institute, AOA will allow young high school athletes the opportunity to attend intensive training programs at SPIRE , travel, and compete at the highest levels. Because many athletes who attend serious sports academies are among the best in their sport in their particular region of the world, this can cause some of them to have initial unrealistic expectations as to where their potential will eventually take them in the world of sport, according to Cutter.
“Our job at the academy is to help themrealistically understand and then realize their full potential,” he says. “And 98 percent ofthe time this potential will lead them down the collegiate, not the professional, athletic path. That is why having a high-quality, well respected academic partner is so important. The educators need to be open-minded and flexible enough to work with competitive athletes training and traveling to compete in multiple sports. At the same time, they need to prepare them for college academics and assist us with the whole placement and compliance aspect of collegiate recruiting. And the proper combination of athletic and academic training and competition is the best possible preparation for later success, not only in college but in the corporate workplace as well for both male and female athletes.”
AOA has experience with balancing sport and academic demands, as its students have competed nationally and worldwide in sports, such as its equestrian program team, nationally ranked tennis players, and several students who are in the performing arts. “Our rigorous yet flexible academic curriculum, faculty with advanced tenure, and our student advisory program all combine to provide the student with the foundation and guidance they need to balance the demands and still be successful,” Roman says.