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Laboratory for Learning

Paul Sipes P '22 views playing fields and courts as laboratories for learning.

“Our hope is that students will learn the hard lessons of competition, without the severity that accompanies the other areas of life where those lessons are commonly learned, as well as provide a laboratory for learning how to approach those lessons,” says Sipes, Mercersburg's co-director of athletics for operations and outreach.

While success in athletics is measured by the results on the scoreboard, the times on the watch and the improvement of skill, it is most importantly evidenced by the character and work ethic of athletes displayed in competitive environments, stresses Sipes, who also serves as Mercersburg's head girls' basketball coach.

Coaches play a key role in that development by the way they invest in their players. Likewise, players develop as they relate to their coaches.

“Students only get out of an interaction what both sides bring to that interaction,” notes Sipes, a former state coach of the year in both Maryland (2001) and Virginia (2013) as well as a nine-time conference coach of the year.

He hopes Mercersburg athletes view his department as a “place where they come to seek challenges, and experience teamwork, sacrifice, determination, and learn the value of hard work.”

Sipes favors author Rudyard Kipling's law of the jungle approach to learning: “As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back, for the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”

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