A competitive format that would feed the high school athletic programs could follow.
Flagler County's middle school sports program was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic.
This fall, the district's two middle school principals want to bring it back. It will start out as an after-school intramural program but could develop into a more competitive format that would become a feeder program for the high school athletic teams, Indian Trails Principal Ryan Andrews said in a workshop presentation to the School Board on July 19.
Buddy Taylor Principal Cara Cronk and district Safety Specialist Tom Wooleyhan joined Andrews in the presentation.
The sports would include cross country and volleyball in the fall, boys and girls basketball in the winter and boys and girls soccer and track and field in the spring with spirit squad/cheerleading throughout the school year.
"The plan is to get started again. The kids are eager and the families are ready and willing to participate. If we build it they will come."
— RYAN ANDREWS, ITMS principal
"The plan is to get started again," Andrews said. "The kids are eager and the families are ready and willing to participate. If we build it they will come."
The intramural program will take advantage of the resources the schools already have with in-house coaches, PE equipment and district bus transportation provided with general neighborhood drop-off.
Transportation could also be provided for games between teams from each of the schools. For the program to develop into interscholastic sports that would include out-of-county competition, the district could partner with outside organizations such as PAL or AAU as it has in the past, Andrews said.
Wooleyhan said an organization such as PAL could provide coaches, social media promotion and concessions.
Andrews said there are two visions — to be competitive or to be inclusive. Finding enough space and supervision could be a hindrance in sustaining an intramural program. A competitive sports program would require qualified coaches who would receive stipends, a school administrator to oversee the program and partnering with AdventHealth Palm Coast to provide athletic trainers, as the high schools do.
Board member Cheryl Massaro said she has wanted to see a competitive middle school sports program for many years. She said a pay-to-play format would be a good way to start.
Andrews said a competitive program would not only benefit the students involved and the middle schools as a whole but provide a boost to the high school programs.
"It's very difficult to build a competitive (high school) program when you're teaching how to play that sport (to ninth graders)," Andrews said.