Written by Casey Bulen

For the 22nd year, various secondary STEM schools throughout the southern United States gathered together this spring to bring a friendly athletic dimension to the experience they have to offer to their students.

Meeting in Natchitoches, Louisiana, STEM schools from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas competed in the SLAMT 2016 competition on April 8-9, 2016, giving students a chance to compete in a selection of athletic competitions. SLAMT 2016 featured competitions in Volleyball, Soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, Boys and Girls Basketball, Tennis, Billiards, and Flag Football.

For some of the schools, SLAMT is an important and prestigious piece of an athletics program that stands as part of what they have to offer. While for others, it is a welcome respite for their students from the daily grind of the strenuous academic regimen that these programs provide, and a unique experience that the students don’t get every day. SLAMT provides a competitive opportunity outside of the classroom that emphasizes sportsmanship, hard work and dedication, leadership, and a positive competitive spirit.

The competition brings all of the students an unforgettable weekend experience that creates a bond with those from similar programs as theirs around the country. It provides a camaraderie that is unique to the various athletic arenas they compete in. It also provides a perspective of what they have in common with students just like them in other states, and what different things each state and program has to offer. It is this connection and this experience that resonates the most with the students, and makes the other messages and values passed along throughout the competition so powerful.

SLAMT also brings with it a strong leadership component. Students are empowered to ‘take charge’ of their teams and their individual performances. They are put into positions to truly develop the leadership skills that are so valued and important in today’s society. They witness the things they say to other students in a team huddle, during practices, or during the games make an impact in their overall performance and they see the respect and influence they have in their fellow students eyes. This only enhances their ability to learn how to lead and gives them first-hand experience in doing so.

Overall, the SLAMT competition provides an incredibly deep and unique experience for all students and staff members involved. It creates a bond between individuals that are everlasting and makes an impact on each student that they will talk about for years. It brings together sister schools that have similar missions and goals in what they do and how they serve their students and provides a forum to casually discuss various operations and programs to allow each school to grow and build on the experience they offer. SLAMT is an athletic competition with a deep and important significance and impact that will last a lifetime.

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