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Homeschool Programs and Elite Athletes: A Student Showcase

by Jessica Parnell | May 20, 2015 | 3 min read

Some families decide to homeschool out of a strong desire to home educate, some are forced to because of circumstances, and other families, like the Overstreet family, never imagined or considered homeschooling. However, after stumbling into a homeschool program, the Overstreet family found benefits and joys they never expected. They soon discovered that homeschooling can do more than just bring families closer together. Homeschool programs have the power to open doors to dreams that would be nearly impossible to chase without the flexibility and freedom of home education.

Ryan Overstreet, an 8th grade student with Bridgeway Academy, was happy at his private school in Florida.  He was very engaged in sports, especially football, and loved spending time on the field. Although he enjoyed his private school, when his family was planning to move in the middle of his 5th grade year because of a job offer, his mother Anita felt that it didn’t make sense to enroll him in private school only to remove him halfway through the year. So, they chose to homeschool and began looking at their options.

Homeschooling Makes Life Easier 

Because Ryan had been in a private school and had not planned on using a homeschool program, accreditation and support were very important to the Overstreets. They looked into  free, online homeschooling through a charter program but had heard negative reviews and didn’t want to gamble with Ryan’s education. Then they found Bridgeway online and chose to enroll Ryan for half of the year. But after only a few weeks, both Ryan and Anita knew they had found a great fit. Not only was Ryan able to learn in a way he enjoyed, but Anita noticed that the stress in their home had gone down and their day was much easier. Ryan was no longer gone all day only to come home and quickly complete homework, wolf down his dinner, and then run to the fields for practice or a game. Instead, he now has more flexibility and time to spend on his academics, on the field, and with his family.

Anita says that “Homeschooling gave us more freedom and flexibility to participate in sports and not rush through life as a family after school.” So, when her family ended up not moving, Ryan continued to homeschool with Bridgeway! The flexibility and ease that schooling at home brought to their lives was too much of a blessing to give up. And, though they didn’t know it at the time, this flexibility would be even more critical for Ryan’s life in the future.

Homeschooling  Paved The Way 

Ryan had always been competitive and loved doing his best in school and football. But, his parents couldn’t have predicted what would happen when Ryan attended a football camp with Adrian McPherson’s Athletic Compound (MAC). After just one weekend event the Overstreets realized they had stumbled upon “something amazing.” They canceled a family trip they had planned in order for Ryan to continue attending camp and honing his skills with McPherson.

Towards the end of the camp Ryan was approached by McPherson and his team of trainers because everyone “saw something special in his abilities.” Soon Ryan found himself practicing his quarterback skills and training daily with McPherson at the MAC, something he would not have been able to do if he had not been a homeschooler.  Ryan’s schedule is full, training 5 days a week with Adrian or another coach until lunch each day and then goes home to do school work. In his evenings he plays on an organized Pop Warner team. This summer he will be traveling to California to shadow McPherson, learning about professional football organizations, training, and competition at an elite level.

Though Ryan never expected to homeschool, the blessings and flexibility of homeschooling allowed him to jump into training and follow his passion for football full force. Because they homeschool with Bridgeway, Ryan is sure to stay on track with both academics and NCAA requirements as he pursues his dream of playing college football and then beginning a professional football career. When we asked about his experience, Ryan said that the “advisor is really great to work with, and classes are fun and interesting.” While homeschooling can be hard, Ryan’s mother Anita says by having someone there to help you as you need it, “takes all of the pressure off!”

Ryan has a promising career ahead of him on and off the field. He looks forward to high school, taking Dual Enrollment courses, and eventually attending the University of Oregon to play football and study law. All of those dreams would have been much more difficult had he not chosen to homeschool, a choice that he and his parents were unsure of at the time but which has proven to be the best fit for their family and Ryan’s bright future.

Find out more about homeschool programs for elite athletes.
How has homeschooling allowed your child to pursue their goals and dreams? Tell us in a comment below!

Jessica Parnell
Hello everyone! I’m Jessica Parnell — mom, homeschool evaluator, teacher, and CEO of Bridgeway Academy. In my 20+ years of experience as a homeschool mom and evaluator, I have had the privilege of meeting homeschoolers that take a variety of approaches to their education. It is their many stories and successes that inspire me in my own homeschooling and I love to pass on the knowledge that I have gained from them to other homeschooling families. The one constant that always remains true is that there’s no such thing as a “cookie cutter child.” Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made and as a result, learns and functions differently. It’s our job to ensure that we’re raising each child to fulfill their individual purpose and when we can teach in a way that inspires them, we are on our way to homeschool success. When I’m not writing or teaching my children, I like to ski, write and participate in triathlons. I graduated from Kutztown University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters in English and I am currently pursuing a degree in Neuroleadership.
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