Francis Parker School is helping to forge the way for a new program designed to support student-athletes. Progress Through Athletics, or P/ATH, offers free content featuring some of the most successful athletes and coaches across sports. Parker was chosen as one of four independent schools, along with Wildwood, Exeter, and Punahou Schools, to participate in a pilot program for P/ATH.
Former Lancer standout Cassidy Lichtman ’07 founded P/ATH. Cassidy is a former USA Volleyball Women’s National Team member and a two-time All-American and an Academic All-American at Stanford before joining Team USA and playing professionally around the world.
P/ATH is a nonprofit focused on using sports to close the divide in athletic programs and shift the culture to one of equity and inclusion. When asked what inspired her to found P/ATH, Cassidy said, “It seemed like there was just this huge audience of kids and these iconic role models…and those role models are used to sell shoes and get autographs. Rather than signing an autograph, I would much rather give a kid a genuine life lesson on becoming a better teammate or person.” P/ATH utilizes the platforms of elite athletes and coaches and the massive youth sports networks to help empower the next generation as athletes and people.
Cassidy aims to find exceptional role models from the sports world that kids might be inclined to listen to, given their success as professional athletes. “The athletes can talk about some of the things that have made them successful, but none of those things have anything to do with getting stronger or faster,” Cassidy says, “They have to do with how they have confidence in themselves or how they make the person next to them better.”
Parker, as well as the three other schools, are informing P/ATH’s curriculum so that athletics isn’t just focused on sports but also has structure around what is being taught on and off the field. By implementing P/ATH in Parker’s athletics program, we are helping to achieve this goal.
As coaches use P/ATH with their teams, they gather input and feedback that P/ATH can apply as it gets introduced to schools nationwide. “Coaches are provided questions that can be used to facilitate discussions and activities that help their athletes apply what they have learned into their own lives,” Associate Athletic Director John Herman said.
Parker’s Football and Track and Field coach DJ Walcott uses P/ATH with both of his teams. “P/ATH is a wonderful tool for the modern high school athlete. It is a great resource that is super easy for coaches to use,” DJ says. He feels that the sport-related speakers, such as football, track, basketball, and Olympic athletes were intriguing and relatable to teens. “Football players getting advice from Superbowl champions is very effective,” DJ says.
DJ would link the P/ATH videos to the practice plans emailed to athletes at the beginning of the week and then perform a discussion and share reflections at the end of the week. The football team made it to the second round of the CIF playoffs, and the Girl’s Track and Field team were League Champions and CIF runners-up. “We attribute much of that success to P/ATH,” DJ says.
P/ATH hopes these pilot programs informs future content and formalizes a curriculum that can be utilized and implemented by coaches around the country.
Francis Parker School is proud to be a part of an exciting program and eager to see it grow.