Kingston City School District 3rd and 4th-graders came together for Basketball Sports Saturday on January 4, playing at both M.C. Miller and J.W. Bailey middle schools. Each elementary school formed a team to play in a fun, non-competitive game of basketball. Sports Saturdays are part of KCSD intramurals and encourage students to get active and involved regardless of individual athletic abilities. These eventful Saturday mornings have been embedded into the Physical Education department since the 1980’s when former Athletic Director and teacher Tony Badalato and teacher Bill Neeley first started the events with health and wellness set as a top priority.
Badalato and Neeley pioneered many of the intramural sporting events that continue annually. Other events have sprouted from their efforts including regular intramurals held in every school building with a different sport in rotation each quarter, like tigerball and basketball. Mr. Dave Kwasnowski, a P.E. Teacher in the early 2000s, added floor hockey to the list giving the department a popular intramural students still enjoy today. The department always strives to find new sports and games to spark more student interest as needed. Just this Fall a soccer intramural was introduced at the Kingston High School after seeing a gap that the sport filled for many students who love the game but may not have been able to play competitively.
The district and especially the KCSD Health and Wellness Committee are huge advocates of intramurals and Sports Saturdays. Not only because students are participating and getting involved with their school, but the health benefits, both physical and mental, are countless. Basketball, for instance, has lasting health benefits including burning calories, reducing stress and boosting the immune system. It supports mental development, improves coordination and like any team sport creates personal connections that improve self-confidence and builds camaraderie.
“It’s always coming from a fitness and healthy lifestyle perspective,” said Frank Passante, KCSD P.E. Teacher and Intramural Coordinator, “but there are many great character traits that can be taught through intramurals as well, like teamwork, sportsmanship, and cooperation. There are many students who may not be a part of a team outside the classroom and intramurals give them that opportunity to work together and have fun, and maybe make some new friends along the way.”