We’ve got  busy week of athletics at Marshall School, with home sectional playoff games in volleyball and football and a state tournament appearance for our boys’ soccer team.

Overall, it has been an exceptional fall for Marshall athletics — measured not just by overall record but also by participation. This season, 100 boys and 136 girls in grades 7-12 participated in a fall team.  That represented 45% of all boys and a whopping 76% of all girls. Many more Marshall students participate in athletics outside of school, through club activities in soccer, hockey, swimming, and skating — just to name a few.

Participation in athletics and the arts affords significant opportunities for leadership and personal development, and our numbers indicate just how much our students “walk the talk” when it comes to fully participating in their school experience.

In a larger context, the Minnesota State High School League just released overall participation numbers for sports in 2011-2012. The most popular sports statewide, listed in rank order by number of participants, were:

Boys Girls
Football Track & Field
Track & Field Volleyball
Basketball Basketball
Baseball Softball
Soccer Soccer
Wrestling Tennis
XC Running XC Running
Golf Swimming
Hockey Dance
Tennis Golf

If you included art or music activities, those lists would look a little different. For example, band would rank as the post popular activity in the state, based on participation, followed by choir, then track &​ field, basketball, football, and baseball/​softball. Speech, a personal favorite, has the same number of participants as boys’ hockey or girls’ cross country.

Nationally, the list of most popular sports looks similar. The top seven male sports are the same nationally as in Minnesota. Tennis and golf come in at 8 and 9, and swimming replaces hockey in the top 10 list. For the females, basketball swaps with volleyball as number 2 and 3 nationally and tennis swaps with cross country running. Lacrosse makes it into the list nationally, edging out golf for the 10th spot.

No matter where they stack up in the list, providing a wide range of activities for our students is essential. Not every team is going to make it to a state tournament, but every student can benefit from being a part of a team.