Middle school sports teams kick off new year


Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.

Middle school sports programs in Alachua County are gearing up for another year of competition, beginning with the volleyball season, which begins this week with practice.

Facts

MIDDLE SCHOOL SPORTS

* What: The Alachua County middle school sports programs featuring boys and girls basketball, soccer and volleyball.

* When: Volleyball tryouts this week.

* Where: Alachua County middle schools.

* Information: Call your middle school.

Volleyball tryouts were held Wednesday at Howard Bishop and Lincoln, and the season will begin on Sept. 9 with Bishop taken on Hawthorne at home and Lincoln battling Fort Clarke on the road.

All matches will begin at 4 p.m., with the girls playing first and the boys playing immediately following.

Tryout dates for basketball and soccer, which seasons are held during the second semester of the school year, will be established at a later date by individual schools.

Implemented by the School Board of Alachua County at the request eight years ago of Superintendent Dan Boyd, the program features competition in boys and girls basketball, soccer and volleyball.

Charlie Wise, director of the program, said nearly 800 students are expected to participate in the program this school year. He said the estimated cost to operate the program this year will be $75,000, an investment, he said, which is well worth it because of the impact the program has had on schools and students.

"We feel middle school sports have had a tremendous impact since its inception in the 2005-06 school year," Wise said. "The program develops good character and values, like responsibility, respect, discipline and dedication, and also helps to foster healthy lifestyles as athletes are encouraged to follow a healthy diet."

Wise also said the program is doing a great job making some students become more studious in the classroon than they might otherwise be because students have to have at least a 2.0 grade point average to participate.

Last year's champions were High Springs Community School in girls volleyball and Bishop in boys volleyball. In basketball, it was Westwood in girls and Bishop boys. In soccer, the champions were Fort Clarke girls and Kanapaha boys.

Mallory Becker, an assistant principal at Lincoln, said the middle school sports program is providing a great source of enrichment for a lot of students.

"It is an important part of the students' lives and it provides a positive place for students to learn about teamwork," Becker said. "It is a positive extracurricular activity that keeps students engaged in positive activities, versus possibly being home alone or hanging out unsupervised after school. This is a positive outlet for students."

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