Theraputic League teaches Western Pa. students value of sports beyond wins and losses
Karlon Nixon has seen first hand the transformative power that sports can have in a person's life.
A sports history teacher and athletic director at Wesley Spectrum Academy in Upper St. Clair, Nixon has served as league commissioner for the Western Pennsylvania Intramural Therapeutic League since 2010. The WPITL was started in 2008 with the purpose of teaching student-athletes the values of fair play and teamwork, rather than focusing on winning and losing.
There are currently eight schools that participate in the WPITL: Wesley Academy, Wesley Highland, Bradley Center, Pace, Pressely Ridge, Glade Run, Longmore Acadmey and Watson Institute. Most of the students that attend these schools struggle with various forms of conduct disorder, or handicaps such as OCD and autism. The ultimate goal is for the students to be integrated back into their local public schools.
The WPITL has played a significant role in that process.
“We've made a lot of improvements,” Nixon said. “We're using the league to motivate the kids inside the classroom, and you can see a big difference when the kids are playing a sport or not playing a sport.”
“It has improved the students' behavior and grades overall, and I can say that about all the schools.”
Students have the option to participate in flag football in the fall, basketball in the winter and soccer in the spring. All games take place Thursdays at 11 a.m. and practices are held during the school day so that students don't face transportation issues after school.
The games inspire plenty of healthy competition to go along with the lessons being taught to the athletes.
“A lot of these kids have never played a sport before, and just getting them out to play the sport, no one wants to lose,” Nixon said. “Everyone likes to win.”
The format of the league still allows students to compete for their district high school teams.
One Wesley Academy student also was a member of South Fayette's WPIAL and PIAA Class AA champion football team, and another played for the Wilkinsburg football team last season.
Without the experience provided by the WPITL, those students might not have had the confidence to pursue the athletic opportunities afforded them.
“These kids play these intramural sports and they see, ‘Hey, I'm good at these sports,' ” Nixon said. “They're just too scared to try.”
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Neighborhood movie theaters use unconventional methods to draw customers
- North Allegheny grad earns international recognition for public speaking
- Arsenal hard cider now served at Soergel Orchards in Franklin Park
- Allegheny County libraries getting upgrade with computer software program
- Dormont library program to pay tribute to Japanese culture
- Mt. Lebanon church plans $2M expansion project
- Event to offer glimpse of cemetery’s history at Old St. Luke’s