We Are Spartans
By: Ken Zelez, Director of Athletics
Why does the Spartan name continue to evoke such powerful emotions two and a half millennia later? The legacy of these legendary warriors has traveled far beyond the battles in which they fought, and their reputation for discipline and total devotion to excellence on and off the field continues to inspire students, and especially athletes, the world over. Sparta’s fame was not built on having the largest army in ancient Greece, but rather the best trained. Formal education began at the age of seven and continued through adulthood as each member was elevated to their fullest potential. Even now, those elite individuals in any industry or walk of life are often referred to as "Spartans".
“ Visiting teams and their supporters are drawn to our School and athletic events for the same reasons that the Spartans continue to capture our imaginations — we’re the ones to beat.”
Although Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) owes much to Sparta’s neighbouring Greek city-states of Athens, Thebes, and Delphi, especially in terms of humanitarian and academic pursuits, undeniable parallels run between the success of our students, teachers, staff, and parents and the name and logo that adorns our gymnasium and apparel. Like our ancient forebears, STS has a long and proud history of shaping exceptional students and athletes, but it is through adversity that our true character is revealed.
The 2021-2022 school year finally saw us begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the amazing leadership of Head of School, Carol Grant-Watt, and our administration and teachers, we were able to work within the Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education safety guidelines to give our student Spartans access to the athletics programs that had been limited during the previous school year. As training resumed under the supervision of our remarkable team of coaches, the overwhelming value of athletics to our students’ development became even more evident.
One valuable lesson these two years have taught us is that kids need sport. Unlike club or community leagues where success is judged primarily by scores and standings, our school programs stress the importance of educational athletics. That is, we view sport as an essential element of a complete education. Academics are never expected to take a back seat to athletics, and vice versa; rather they work together to cultivate well-rounded human beings who excel both as students and as multisport athletes. Individual sports and schedules are carefully coordinated to ensure that students don’t have to choose between the sports they’re naturally talented at and those they have always wanted to try.
A student playing for their school will also exhibit a much higher level of pride in every one of their pursuits than would be typically seen at the club level. STS Spartans fully invest themselves in both their sport and in the classroom, and they receive coaching and teaching that carries the same STS values throughout the school calendar. A handful of our senior athletes will go on to play for universities or colleges each year, while others will hang up their jerseys and pursue more traditional academic careers. However, none will ever forget the sense of pride they felt playing as Spartans.
With 11 provincial wins to our credit, Strathcona- Tweedsmuir School’s cross country program continues to lead at every level in the province, regardless of school size, a feat on which we’ve long hung our hats. Our golf team, which has won four Zone banners and 11 ASAA Provincial titles over 17 years, saw an incredible 55 students vying for eight positions this year. Our Senior School badminton team won its first provincial banner since 2013. Yet another storybook ending was written this past year by our Senior Varsity Boy’s volleyball team. After a challenging regular season, they moved on to Regionals and Zones before qualifying for Provincials. Despite the fact that they were seen by many as underdogs, they ran right through the tournament. It just goes to show that you can never count out a Spartan.
Visiting teams and their supporters are drawn to our School and athletic events for the same reasons that the Spartans continue to capture our imaginations — we’re the ones to beat.
I never tire of watching the faces of young athletes as they enter our gymnasium for the first time and catch a glimpse of the decades’ worth of championship banners, along with the impassioned roar of the home team supporters. Our STS Spartan legacy may be made on the court and field, but our reputation goes far beyond that.