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Parents React to Consolidation of Joplin Middle School Sports - KOAM TV 7

Parents React to Consolidation of Joplin Middle School Sports

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -


The Joplin school board votes to consolidate more sports teams at the middle schools after a basketball pilot program.
          Athletics officials said a survey of those who made the team and even those who didn't proved the plan is a good one. But not all parents are happy.


 It started with trying out for basketball.  Drew Atherton’s eighth grade son Landon made the team. "He likes the competition and he likes playing with his friends from the other middle schools as well," Drew said. He did admit his son was discouraged that some of his friends got cut. And said one of them was playing in intramurals to develop skills.


Christy Hance’s son fell into the cut category. And she said she’s not just concerned about him. “You've got a lot more boys sitting on the bench and lot less boys getting to play. And the other concern I have is, are we stacking teams with kids that are only able to play growing up into travel teams,  clubs teams? Not all of our kids, we have a lot of poverty in Joplin, not a lot of those kids have those opportunities in lower younger ages. So middle school is really key! Its a key and crucial  time when theyre growing and theyre changing. Time for opportunities to happen for these kids and were saying no, sorry. No opportunity for you.

Besides basketball, only volleyball and cheer leading will include tryouts, cuts and team limits. And officials say a junior varsity  or “c” team and intramurals will offer balance.
Athletic Director for the school district, Matt Hiatt explained, “We're also creating an intramural volleyball program which we've never had here before to go along with that combination. Again, the idea behind that is that program would not be  centered around competition but centered around skill development.”

Then kids are encouraged to  try out the next year. But Hance’s son told  her, It’s not the same as having the pride of playing  for your school.”
While Hance believes consolidation is denying many students the opportunity to play athletics, officials said they had a difficult time retaining students on the teams.."

Middle school athletic director Jacob Williams said,  "It was very discouraging for a young person’s psyche at the middle school level to repeatedly maybe get beat up quite a bit on the score board that hurts."

Drew Atherton agreed and said it’s changed. He explained, "Now they're beating those teams they weren't beating before with having  all the kids play together."


And Hiatt also hopes that carries through to high school teams. Surveys showed continued interest. Hiatt said, "Ninety-four percent of those kids (middle school basketball players) said they planned on trying out again next year."
He said middle school  football  now has a better chance for a full roster.
But when it comes to volleyball and cheer leading which both will limit numbers, Hance's daughter feels torn. Hance said her daughter  plans to stop cheer leading to work harder on making the volleyball team. But is still worried. Hance said, "She feels she’s at a disadvantage that she hasn’t done club volleyball. Those are the kids I’m worried about.  They’re already walking into this  feeling there’s no chance for them. They shouldn't  have that."

     The athletic director said the district encourages students to take part in the  the Joplin Youth Football  Association and the Joplin Youth Basketball Associations which operate at a low cost. He said they offer students from second to sixth grade a chance to learn sports skills and will have them prepared when they reach seventh grade tryouts.  
          Students who played together on those youth teams  had been separated in middle school in the past.   This consolidation  eliminates that separation keeping teammates together if they tryout through high school giving them a competitive edge.  


 

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