At Highland, athletics is kind of a big deal. We’ve found that sports – both participatory and competitive – are a great way to bring out our Five C’s of critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and leadership, and character beyond the confines of the classroom.

Athletics start in Lower School

Athletics start in the earliest grades with dedicated physical education classes multiple times per week. Lower School students work with our coaches on units covering team sports including soccer, lacrosse, basketball and indoor hockey and individual skills and fitness activities including jump rope, juggling, and running. Additionally, recess is a beloved part of the daily schedule with students participating in a variety of self-directed activities during the course of the school day.

In third grade, students are assigned to either the Blue or Gold teams. A Highland tradition that dates back at least 40 years, Blue vs. Gold is a year-long athletic competition in which team members collect points in their physical education classes. The competition culminates each Spring with a field-day competition featuring an obstacle course, an 80 yard dash, distance run, and accuracy throws.

Introduction to team sports in Middle School

In Middle School, students are required to participate in three recreational or competitive sports per year. Options include volleyball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, cross country running, baseball, golf, and tennis.

“I am very proud of where our program is today as well as where it is headed," said Gary Leake, Highland’s Athletic Director. “I view program success as a partnership between student athletes, coaches, teachers, parents, and school personnel. We are not a “win at all cost” school, but have developed a method that emphasizes the quality of the experience over the quantity of wins and losses.”

“I believe that, through participation, our student athletes have the opportunity to gain life lessons in such areas as self discipline, work ethic, character, time management, commitment and personal training habits,” Coach Leake continued.

Athletics is part of the Upper School culture

In the Upper School, athletics take on a more prominent role in Highland’s social landscape. Widely known and respected as tough competitors, Highland athletes embrace the thrill of winning and the virtues of sportsmanship. Highland’s coaches, who are all members of the national Positive Coaching Alliance, help student athletes “redefine what a winner is,” says Gary Leake, Athletic Director. “This positive approach helps to make the game better for all involved.”

Highland School fields 20 Varsity teams for boys and girls across three seasons. We also offer Junior Varsity and Middle School teams across all three seasons to give more students the opportunity to participate, compete, and grow as both students and athletes. Athletics at Highland is as much about participation as it is excellence. Each year, 78% of our Upper School students participate in at least one varsity-level sport. over the past 13 years, we've won 11 state titles.

Highland's coaches are all members of the Positive Coaching Alliance

All of Highland's coaches are members of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a national non-profit developing "Better Athletes, Better People" by working to provide all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience. Learn more about the Positive Coaching Alliance at



Highland School is a co-ed independent Pre-K2 to Grade 12 day school located in Warrenton, Virginia.