At The Episcopal School of Dallas, we believe that involvement in athletics can help build strong character and community, and instill a sense of honor, respect, and integrity (three of ESD’s values highlighted in our Code of Conduct) among our students. And while school-sanctioned sports don’t start until the seventh grade at ESD, our active younger Eagles have their own athletic opportunities.
Since 2014, ESD’s Sports Fellowship Program has been a cornerstone of the community for students in Pre-K through sixth grade. This program, whose fundamental goal is to promote inclusivity and foster positive community relationships, partners with the local YMCA Youth Sports programs to provide an array of seasonal athletic offerings to our younger Eagles.
“In my short time here, I have been impressed with the number of students who participate in the program,” said Jane DeGrenier, who stepped into the role of ESD Sports Fellowship Coordinator in August of 2021. “It is a wonderful way to forge community connections through sports, particularly for our new families. I can't think of a better way to spend time with your classmates and get to know one another's family members.”
A strong sense of community is one of the four Hallmarks of an ESD education, and this hallmark in particular shines brightly on the court and on the field of our young Sports Fellowship athletes. And with a great community comes great community leaders. The Sports Fellowship program would not be possible without our myriad of volunteers.
Our dedicated parent community has donated thousands of hours in volunteer time coaching multiple sports across multiple seasons. ESD parent and alum Chris Ayres ’97 (pictured left with one of his teams), father to Cooper ‘28 and Wyatt ‘25, and longtime Sports Fellowship coach, has just retired from his volunteer coaching career after coaching an incredible 75 seasons of youth sports.
“Coaching so many kids and so many teams throughout my boys’ time at ESD was truly a joy. I started with a goal to try to be impactful, to teach children not only about sports, but life,” Chris explains. “There was nothing better for me than witnessing their individual and collective growth and successes, and learning how to foster resiliency in them when things might not have gone their way. While time is certainly our most precious commodity, there was no doubt in my mind that my time was rightly invested in those I was blessed to coach.”
The camaraderie and school spirit that this program is able to foster within our students is clear when you hear from volunteers like Chris. Thank you to all of our volunteer coaches for the time, energy, effort, and love you have put into your teams over the course of this program. These dedicated individuals and the lessons they bestow greatly impact our students and stay with them throughout their time at ESD, long after they graduate from the Sports Fellowship program.