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SAAS: Message from Rob Phillips on Athletics League Change

Dear SAAS Community, 

As we head into May, the end of the school year is closer on the horizon. While that occupies much of our focus, we are also hard at work planning for the 2023-2024 school year and beyond. 

Much of that planning work is focused on the new Home of the Upper School, which we’re hopeful will open in the fall of 2025. While the excitement continues to build for what that space will mean for the Seattle Academy community and campus, we’re intently focused on the short and near term, including some important developments for the Athletic Program that I want to share with you now.

The headline: SAAS is applying for an athletic league change that would modify the level at which the Upper School students will play during the 2024-2025 school year. We are applying to join the Metro League

SAAS for years has been a member of the Emerald Sound Conference, which is a 1A league, as determined by student enrollment. Starting in the 2024-2025 school year, based on enrollment size, SAAS will be a 2A school so a league change is both a requirement AND a mission-driven, program-supporting, student-centered decision.

Above all else, our commitment to our Mission and Values is unshakeable. A commitment to both Participation and Excellence is core to the SAAS experience and we believe this change will enhance our ability to live up to that commitment in the area of athletics. Joining the Metro league would offer a new opportunity to live out the Culture of Performance, to share it with a new group of schools, and to learn from them as well.

We believe that joining the Metro League is aligned with our growing understanding of what it means to be an Inclusive Community. For many years, SAAS has been a part of a league that has primarily included private schools. Our DEI statement begins with “Seattle Academy nurtures empathetic connections between people with different life experiences.” The Metro League represents schools that serve a range of communities, neighborhoods, cultures and socio-economic groups. In changing leagues, we have an opportunity to engage with the broader community in a way that is more aligned with our mission and values and strengthens the athletic program and experience.

As with any transition, there will be changes on multiple levels. But there are constants as well:

SAAS will continue to support students who want to pursue their passion for athletics, as in other areas, at the highest level of their talent and commitment. We’ll continue to offer a no-cut program so that all SAAS students have opportunities to be active, be a part of a team and connect in healthy ways with other students at SAAS. We will continue to encourage students to see themselves as students, athletes and artists, rather than confining their interests to a specific area at the cost of developing a full sense of self and a full appreciation of the gifts and talents of others.

Those fundamental commitments will continue to define SAAS, as they have in past changes in leagues, classifications and the addition of new teams and programs.

As I said before, this isn’t a change that will take place next year. We’ll continue to compete at the High School level in the Emerald Sound Conference for the 2023-2024 school year and the change will have no impact on Middle School athletes.

Our league change application will be written and sent to the leagues in August and we will then continue to communicate with our community about status and timeline updates. 

We’ll cover the application process and what it entails in follow-up communications, but it’s important to note that joining the league is a request, not a demand or expectation. The Metro league will vote on our application, and it’s important that we convey to them why we believe we’re a good candidate, how we’ll be a good partner and that we see joining Metro as a privilege and not an expectation. Ultimately, we believe that joining the Metro League is great for SAAS, and we’ll be a great contributing member of the league. 

The attached letter (also linked in button below) from Assistant Head of School for Student Experience, Shavette McGhee, and Athletic Director, Cathy Schick, provides additional detail regarding the application process to the Metro League, the benefits to the SAAS community and the decision timeline.

More to come especially next fall as we move into a new sports season and as we gather in groups where this topic will be front of mind. We’ll keep the SAAS community informed as the process moves forward and beginning next fall, as well as schedule opportunities for the community to ask questions, provide input, engage supportively in the process and hopefully build enthusiasm for this exciting change. 

On behalf of SAAS leadership, our Athletic Department, coaches and athletes, we thank you for your incredible support as we complete our spring season in what’s been a great year for SAAS Athletics. We are looking forward to an exciting new chapter in the future. 

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Rob Phillips

Head of School

Additional Information from Athletics on League Change