Physical Education Department

Boys PE

In a very direct way, the P.E. program at SMA Boys’ School aims to strengthen the character and will of each student to prepare him to face the combat of life. From daily temptations to trials faced in the classroom, the workplace, and at home, the demands of life require a strong will for perseverance on the material or physical level and, far more importantly, on the spiritual level, where the eternal happiness or punishment of the soul is at stake. It is for this reason that each class begins with the invocation of the great St. Michael to “defend us in battle,” for physical education involves combat to overcome weaknesses through tough, physical exercises demanding focus and determination to push to the end, or through intramural competitions, which call for honesty and a certain graciousness in winning and losing. Violence is done against one’s own weaknesses, lack of willpower and fortitude. If a young man never learns to say “NO” to himself, to the body and its petty demands as it grows weary in the physical realm, how can we expect him to tame the unruly passions, which assault both young and old alike? We will lead by example, saying “NO” to ourselves, passing on that precious skill to the boys, by pushing them to the limits on the P.E. field that has been consecrated by the blood, sweat, and tears of class after class as they struggled to master themselves. As long as there is a young man to be pushed and a coach to blow the whistle again and again, the SMA P.E. fields will continue these consecrations.

In the old days at SMA, prior to 2015, P.E. Department Head Mr. Tim Quain recalls that the boys had very little in the way of P.E. equipment or even a place to call their own. When Fr. Bourbeau took the lead of the program we were given permission to claim what is now the site of the new Immaculata, an initiative that improved the boys’ outlook on the program. We beat down the tall prairie grass with each step as 120 boys and their teacher companions turned about 10 acres of nothing into a “comfortable” battle ground, complete with a gated entry/exit and a crucifix. The fields were dedicated to St. Maurice and the Theban Legion, over 6600 Roman soldiers, who were martyred for refusing to participate in pagan sacrifices or to kill Christians. In 2018 new fields were professionally graded and seeded for the boys, and P.E. afternoons continue to be cherished by all—men and boys—as a positive contribution to the boys’ fitness and spirit, despite the dread mixed with desire in the admonition “Don't forget your P.E. clothes.”

Girls PE

Man is a composite being, a body made from clay animated by a soul, destined for the life of grace and immortality. The mission of SMA Girls’ School P.E. program is to train the bodies of our students to work in harmony with their souls, establishing habits conducive to lifelong physical discipline and health.

"What man is happy?” asked the ancient Greek philosopher. “He who has a healthy body, a resourceful mind and a docile nature,” he concluded (Thales, 626 BC). Juvenal urged his fellow first century Romans to “Pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body,” emphasizing the necessity of training the whole person. A healthy body is physically fit to serve the life of the soul and to help grace flourish there.

The intramural sports and fitness activities of the girls’ P.E. program include, but are not limited to, archery, volleyball, aerobics, netball, jumprope routines, tennis, circuit training, soccer, and stretching. These are all geared toward a broad range of foundational movements and the development of physical grace, balance, and endurance, in harmony with this guidance of Pius XII: “ . . . what is, first of all, the function and goal of sports, understood in a healthy and Christian way, if not to cultivate the dignity and harmony of the human body, to grow in health, strength, agility, and grace?” (“Address to Italian Athletes,” May 20, 1945).