Oak Knoll Introduces Distinctive New Youth Sports Program

In a shift from focusing on interscholastic competition, Oak Knoll is proud to launch the Junior Royals program. The new program, emphasizing skill and athleticism training, is designed specifically for boys and girls in grades 3-6. This new initiative reframes the traditional approach to youth sports by emphasizing the enjoyment of physical activity and the development of essential skills over competition and winning in the early years. The school’s overarching goal is to ignite a lifelong love of movement and set the foundation for a healthy, active lifestyle.

“Competition has its place in sports, but our primary goal is to ignite a lifelong love of movement and a better understanding of how to properly move our body to benefit all of the activities we enjoy doing, whether it be sports, dance, karate, etc.,” said Dr. Kelly Childs, Oak Knoll Director of Athletics. “By focusing on skill development and fun, we believe we can nurture a positive and enduring relationship with physical activity.”

Offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school from 3-4:30 p.m. on the turf field and in the Tisdall gym, the Junior Royals program provides meticulously crafted sessions to enhance body mechanics and athleticism. These sessions benefit any sport or physical activity our students enjoy, whether soccer, dance, martial arts or simply playing with friends. With a structured weekly curriculum developed in partnership with Prodigy Sport and Oak Knoll alumnus Andrew Hubschmann ’92, the program draws on expert insights to offer engaging and effective training.

The innovative curriculum strongly emphasizes agility, balance, speed, and coordination — core components for healthy movement and overall sports proficiency. These foundational skills are crucial for children’s physical and emotional development, ensuring they gain the confidence and capability to excel in various sports as they grow.

“The Junior Royals program leads to winning outcomes for everyone, but not in the traditional sense of wins and losses on a court or field,” Childs said. “Here, we foster a better sense of self, a better appreciation for the body, and confidence in our physical abilities and opportunities for growth and improvement. Our program is designed to meet our students in these formative years where they are and then work with them to challenge them to reach new heights in a safe and exciting environment.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 70% of children drop out of organized sports by age 13. However, research indicates that when youngsters learn essential skills through fun and developmentally appropriate play early on, they are significantly more likely to stay engaged in sports through their middle and high school years. Oak Knoll’s Junior Royals program directly addresses this by fostering a love for physical activity, complementing the Lower School Physical Education program, and establishing a solid foundation of movement in a supportive and enjoyable environment.