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Middle School Sports to be eliminated in James City County Schools. Where do you stand ?

A letter from Scott Vinson , our sons football coach at both Hornsby Middle School and with the Williamsburg Hornets

For the past 2-years you may have seen me on the sidelines at Hornsby Middle School assisting Head Coach Greg Scott with the Hornsby Middle School Football Program, and the year prior to that I worked for Greg as an Assistant at James Blair Middle School. For others, I have coached for the Williamsburg Hornets Youth Football League for 12 seasons, concurrent with Middle School, and served as a Board Member for the WYFCL for many years. I have also been a Head Coach on WYBL teams for 4 years as well.

I write today with dire news regarding the future of Middle School Sports and ask that you (and your kids) join me in taking action to contact WJCC School Board Members to ensure that Middle School Sports remain a part of the Educational Experience in the WJCC School System.

As you may know, in the most recent WJCC Superintendent’s Budget Recommendations presented last Tuesday February 20th, there was a recommendation for the complete elimination of all Middle School Sports in next year’s budget.

At the upcoming Tuesday March 6th School Board Meeting, the Board will hear open comments regarding the budget.

I hope that you feel as I do, that eliminating Middle School would be a travesty. And I ask you whether you are the parent of a current Middle Schooler who will be adversely affected by the elimination of Middle School Sports, or the parent of a student who recently completed or is in the process of completing their Middle School transition, or even a parent whose child is a few years out … to TAKE ACTION WITH ME AND WRITE or CALL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS asking that they turn their sites elsewhere when looking for budget savings … and LEAVE MIDDLE SCHOOL SPORTS IN TACT.

As stated in the Superintendent’s proposed budget, Middle School Sports costs $111,000 a year to maintain, that’s all 7 sponsored sports, plus cheerleading, in all 3 WJCC Middle Schools … $111,000 total; it has also been stated that Middle School Sports serve 550+ kids across all 3 schools, while serving as the backbone for feeder programs to High School Sports, and acting as a transitional way point in athletics (just like it does in academics) for kids moving from Recreational League Sports to High School Sports.

In the big picture, hardly a program that merits consideration for the chopping block.

I know that you’ll agree with me too, when I say that Middle School Sports helps to shape and mold our young athletes into better students and citizens, and long term sets them up better to handle their growth into their teenage years as they are better equipped to handle stress, adversity and challenges that may come their way.

Academically, 11 of our Hornsby Hawk Football Players, at the Winter Pep Rally in January, were recognized as student-athletes who earned perfect 4.0 GPAs during their fall football season! In fact, amazingly 30 of our 42 players held GPAs of 3.0 or above in the fall, with the median GPA for a football player, coming in just over 3.2 during the season.

We all know that sports help to teach our kids how to manage their abilities, while demanding that they be better than average students; think of the grades and behavior exhibited by your own kids during the rigorously structured football season, and then afterward, when idle hands are more at work.

From a personal side, as the parent of a soon-to-be teenager, just like you … I want to make sure that my child has access to a higher level of sports (above recreational league programs, but not as costly as travel league programs) so that he can have the same experience, and pride playing for his school / team as we all did growing up.

But how do we cover the costs?

Would I like to see reallocation of SHIP funds, better use of planning, travel and scheduling across all sports to save on transportation costs, and mandatory fund-raising programs at Middle Schools in place, first to help cover costs … YES … and that all should take place.

But, if it came down to a choice between TOTAL ELIMINATION OF SPORTS vs. a SMALL FEE-BASED PROGRAM … the small-fee-based system would absolutely be acceptable before the total elimination of the program. And, yes, I understand that a fee based system would be set up with the understanding that the fees would not guarantee any playing time for any player, but would simply help support the viability of the Sports Program in the future.

Please join me, whether your child has completed Middle School, or even if you have one moving up to Middle School, and share your feedback with the School Board Members and Superintendent, by emailing your thoughts on keeping Middle School Sports. Below is a list of all the School Board members contact phone numbers and email addresses.

Dr. Steven M. Constantino

Phone: 603-6479

superintendent@wjcc.k12.va.us

Mr. James P. Nickols (Stonehouse)

Home Phone: 566-1880

Email: nickolsj2@wjcc.k12.va.us

Ms. Ruth Larson (Berkeley)

Home Phone: 259-9237

Email: larsonr@wjcc.k12.va.us

Mr. Joseph “Joe” Fuentes, PE (Powhatan)

Home Phone: 565-3431

Email: fuentesj@wjcc.k12.va.us

Mrs. Heather Cordasco (Roberts)

Home Phone: 645-3915

Email: cordascoh@wjcc.k12.va.us

Mr. Jim Kelly, PE (Jamestown)

Home Phone: 258-3779

Email: kellyj3@wjcc.k12.va.us

Ms. Elise Emanuel (Williamsburg)

Home Phone: 229-6457

Email: emanuele2@wjcc.k12.va.us

Dr. Oscar Prater

Home Phone: 229-2432

Email: pratero@wjcc.k12.va.us

TIME IS SHORT … at the Tuesday March 6th, School Board Meeting, there will a chance for you to provide open commentary and  community feedback on the budget. Several of us will be there! And invite you to join us if you can in a show of solidarity regarding the maintenance of Middle School Sports.

But, whether you can be there or not … please take a moment to email or call a school board member, and have your voice heard.

Tell them … MIDDLE SCHOOL SPORTS MUST STAY!

Get your email, or phone call done today.

Thanks for your support.

Coach Scott Vinson

SDV

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