Simla, Colorado is a little town where big things are happening.
It all started back in 2013, when staff and coaches from Simla’s Big Sandy School were invited to attend a meeting to learn about the TrueSport movement. Shortly afterward, TrueSport Athlete Ambassador Jimmy Moody – a world-class fencer – paid a visit to the school, talking about the core TrueSport values: integrity, respect, teamwork, courage, and responsibility.
You might say that those first events planted a seed…because the TrueSport message flourished there. It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen because somebody said so. It happened organically…because that message resonated so deeply with the Big Sandy students.
A group of committed high school student athletes took on the challenge of mentoring younger classes, from second to eighth grade. Working from TrueSport lesson plans, they came up with their own individual teaching solutions. Before long, a TrueSport Club was founded – a group of students fully committed to sharing the values of the movement.
“TrueSport really connected with the students,” says Sammi Swennes, Big Sandy 6-12 principal. “The faculty didn’t push the idea of a club – the students came to us. It was so impressive to see that they didn’t just want to live the TrueSport values; they also wanted to teach them to the younger students. So you had students becoming teachers, in the most positive sense.”
Today, Big Sandy is the first officially recognized TrueSport School. Visit the gymnasium, and you’ll find a TrueSport banner proudly displayed.
“For me, the most important thing wasn’t the specific activities or the awards,” says Jennifer Dodd, TrueSport Senior Manager. “It was the simple fact that these kids, with the support of their parents, teachers and community, had done all of this by themselves. They took ownership of the TrueSport values and principles – embraced them, made them a part of their day-to-day lives. And they felt the obligation to share them with the next generation of students. We think of it as a model – a way that the movement can spread and grow across the country. If you want to know what TrueSport is all about, Big Sandy would be a pretty good place to start.”