Private School Athletics at White Mountain

The White Mountain School offers a wide variety of unique athletics for students to participate in, such as ice climbing, dance and more. Learn more about private school athletics at WMS from student Sarah Abbott in this podcast.
John Maher: Hi, I'm John Maher. I'm here today with Sarah Abbott, a student at the White Mountain School, a private college prep day and boarding school in New Hampshire. Today we're talking about private school athletics at White Mountain School. Welcome, Sarah.

Sarah Abbott: Hi, John.

Sports at WMS

John: Sarah, what sports do you engage in at The White Mountain School?

Sarah: I run cross country in the fall, and in the winter, I ice climb. In the spring I do sport climbing in our indoor rock climbing gym.

John: Okay, that's really cool. What has been your experience of doing those sports at White Mountain? Is it a lot of fun?

Sarah: Yes, I love both of them. I guess there are three of them, but climbing is one in my head. I don't think I knew what ice climbing was before I got here. They sent me a sport sheet of things that I could sign up for only shortly before I actually arrived. I was like, "Ice climbing, what's that?" and I signed up and I just showed up and they were like, "Here's what you're doing."

John: Wow. You signed up almost not even knowing what it was? It just sounded cool?

Sarah: I assumed I was going to be taking something and putting it in the ice.

John: Right.

Sarah: I think I googled that image.

John: Right. You see those people hanging on these overhanging waterfalls. That is just amazing.

Sarah: Yes, it's insane.

Cross Country Running

John: That's really cool. Now that's awfully different from cross country. What's the running like? Do you actually compete against other schools in the area?

Sarah: We are part of the Lakes Region Division, I guess. We have meets pretty regularly. I ran at my old school and we had a team of 40 girls, that was really big. Here it's different. We definitely have smaller teams, but what's nice about running is that you can do whatever you want with that. Our coach is this woman who runs Ironman Races. At the end of the season last year, we found out she came in fourth at Worlds for Ironman. I was like, "What?" She'll really take you anywhere you want to go with that.

John: That's pretty unusual for a high school I'd say, to have your coach be like an Ironman athlete. That's pretty amazing.

Sarah: Yes, I'm amazed by her. I don't even know what to say.

John: Do you run long distance running or do you do a track or anything?

Sarah: Yes. In cross country we generally run 5Ks. There aren't very many track teams in this area. We don't have track, but for example, I made running my independent sport because I was interested in it in the spring and one of the teachers who runs marathons here put together a schedule for me, drove me to races, drove me to trails and just made that work.

John: Yes. That's great and you're just in such an awesome area up here. Do you run all the time up here? Do you do trail runs through the woods and things like that?

Sarah: Yes. We have some trails on campus, but also you could run a different trail within 20 minutes of here every day, I feel like for a month. I haven't tried that, but I think that'd be something interesting to try.

Ice Climbing 

John: Right. Tell me a little bit about the ice climbing. Is that a competition sport as well, or do you just do that as more of an athletic activity?

Sarah: We don't compete. We just go out and we set up and we climb. I think rock climbing, sport climbing competes a few times a year. There's the option to compete a couple more times than the ones that everybody goes to, but ice climbing is just sort of, you do it and if you like it, you keep doing it, and if you don't, you don't have to.

John: Right. What's it like to be out there and hanging on a rope on this ice face?

Sarah: I don't think you can explain that. I tell my friends at home that I do that and they're like, "What is that?" There's something to it that makes you keep wanting to go up even when you can't feel your fingers.

Other Athletics at White Mountain School 

John: Right. That's amazing. What are some of the other sports that you're aware of that The White Mountain School offers?

Sarah: We have outdoor climbing in the warmer seasons and we have indoor climbing all three seasons. We have Whitewater kayaking in spring which is really unique.

John: That's cool.

Sarah: That's really popular. Everyone wants to do that. What else? We have team sports. Every season has a team sport. In the fall, it's soccer. In the winter, it's basketball. In the spring, it's lacrosse. We like to go out and all the other students watch the games that are home games. We have so many. It's hard to just list them off the top of our head. It's like, we're a school of a 120 and there might be like eight or nine options per season. There are things you can stay on campus and do, [like] fitness activities. You can ski and snowboard in the winter. You can do that recreationally. You can do that on a team and you can compete.

John: You said there are 120 students on campus?

Sarah: I think there's a little more than that.

Choosing a Sport

John: That's amazing that you can put together enough teams for all of these sports and the activities. Do people tend to do more than one sport or activity in a season or just pick one?

Sarah: People just pick one. Some of the teams are quite small, like for example, ice climbing. I can’t have more than eight or nine people because there's only so many instructors, so many ropes and the program is built to have the number of people that tend to come.

The Importance of Private School Athletics 

John: Okay. Why do you think that athletics are important to students in general and to the students at a private school like White Mountain School, in particular?

Sarah: Here, and I think at private schools, really you can have the opportunity to try it and go and do it. I feel like at public schools it’s like, "Have you been doing it since you were 12? Are you this or are you that?" Here you just go and you meet people and they'll be friendly about teaching you how to do it and how to play, whatever the activity might be. I just think it's unique that you can just do it. You can just try it.

John: Right. Do all students need to do some sort of athletic activity at the school?

Sarah: Every season you need to do something during the sports block, but for example, theater is a sport in the fall. You don't have to be athletic per se.

John: Right. That's great. It seems, like you said, at a small school like this where you've got a private boarding school and a limited number of students. It seems like there's more opportunity, maybe for you to get involved with a sport and get involved and be on a team. Maybe at a larger school you'd have to do tryouts or something like that where you might not get on the team, even though you might want to play and it seems like at here, if you want to play, you're going to play. If you want to try something that you've never tried before, you have that opportunity, and that's really great.

Sarah: Yes, I would say that's absolutely true.

John: Yes. All right, that's really great, Sarah. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Sarah: It was great to be here.

John: For more information visit the school's website at or call 603.444.2928.


371 West Farm Road  •  Bethlehem, New Hampshire 03574  •  603.444.2928
Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for students grades 9-12/PG.

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The White Mountain School admits students of any race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

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