Board Considers Middle School Sports Coordinator Position

Ohio County Board of Education member Shane Mallett asked his colleagues to consider creating an athletic coordinator position for middle school sports during a special meeting Friday.

Mallett said this person could act as a liaison between high school and middle school athletic teams to set up events and help get students involved in athletics early in their educational careers.

He said too many students are not getting involved in sports until high school, which he said leaves them little time to learn about their selected sports and hone their skills.

“Middle school athletics seem to be slipping through the cracks,” Mallett said. “We need to focus on getting kids participating.”

Mallett said one of the most common complaints from parents about middle school sports is the general lack of games. He said coordination is needed to fix the situation.

School board President James Jorden said the middle school stage of education is crucial in helping young athletes to develop.

“I completely agree that we need an athletic director at the middle school as a liaison,” Jorden said. “It’s important by the time they get to that age. They need that match experience. This is where you sort of build that foundation for kids.”

Board member Christine Carder said the importance of student involvement in such things as athletics cannot be overestimated.

“The ones who get involved, those are the ones who will stay in high school,” Carder said. “That attachment, that’s what keeps them there.”

Carder added student involvement could come in a variety of forms not limited to sports, such as music, theater, clubs and other extracurricular activities that require them to work with others.

Mallett said one problem with current athletic programs is a lack of knowledgeable coaches leading the teams.

He said one coach told him he knew little about the sport he was coaching but took the position anyway just to help the program.

But Assistant Superintendent Bernie Dolan said those sorts of coaches, the ones who have enthusiasm but lack expertise, can be invaluable with the right instruction.

“That’s the guy we want, but we’ve got to give him the right tools,” Dolan said. “If we don’t provide the right instruction for coaches to provide quality instruction for the kids, middle school sports will suffer.”

The board agreed to look into the possibility of setting up an athletic coordinator position for middle school sports.