With August arriving very soon, the Bartow High School athletic programs will be kicking their tryouts and pre-season conditioning into high gear. To prepare for the event, an informative “Meet the Coaches” session was held at the Bartow High School cafeteria.
Approximately 140 parents and students filled the room in anticipation of involvement in one of the programs offered. Swimming and diving, boys and girls golf, cross country, volleyball, football and Summerlin Academy archery were represented.
Bartow athletic director Ben Braaten provided detailed explanation of the requirements necessary to participate. He expressed the importance of physicals, adding that the forms must be turned in to the school office before a student can participate in tryouts or competition. The form must be completely signed or is not valid. Other matters dealt with the secondary insurance offered through the Polk County School Board, the consent and parent-coach communication. The handout explained what to expect from the coach, what communication coaches expect from parents, issues appropriate to discuss and those that should not be discussed. Braaten told the parents, “Be at all the games or matches. Cheer loudly and for your team. Be positive and supportive. Be examples of good sportsmanship.”
The matter of grades was discussed at length. Many of those in attendance may be new to the school in their first year of study or transferred in. “In two-and-a-half weeks, I have to pull the grades for all of the athletes,” said Braaten. To compete in high school sports, you have to have a grade point average of 2.0 or better. One of the hardest days I have is when I have to go to a coach and tell that coach that he or she can’t use that player or athlete because of grades. You’ll find that it takes two good semesters to make up for a bad one, so it is easier just to avoid having that bad one to start with. You are student athletes with the emphasis on student. this year, the NCAA changed the rules so that you have to have a 2.3 GPA to be eligible for an athletic scholarship. If you’re below that, you won’t play, if anyone even gives you the chance. The competition can be tight and schools don’t have to take those who don’t meet the standards.”
Academic excellence has become a force equal to athletic excellence at Bartow High School. “Last year, we had five teams that qualified as scholar-athlete teams,” said Braaten. “The girls soccer team had a 3.5 average and that was with 22 girls. I like to win at everything.”
Braaten stressed the importance of being involved in all aspects of the student’s life and invited parents to become Super Boosters. “They support all sports and they’re looking for new people to join, because many of those involved have seniors in the school and won’t be as involved next year,” he said. “The boosters purchase and pay for items that the school board doesn’t. For example, school board money can’t be used for meals. If a team travels and wants to stop to eat, we can use that money or we’d have to ask the kids to provide their own money. We can’t use school board funds to buy shoes. There are a lot of restrictions on what we can and can’t spend board money on. We rely on boosters and the teams’ fundraising. We were just informed that the schools are going to have to start paying for the officials, which was a school board responsibility. The boosters meet once a month and we have a good time and get good work done to benefit the teams.”
Braaten introduced the 2013 coaches who will lead the Bartow and Summerlin teams. Each coach set up a separate location to talk to potential players and parents. Nicole Whitaker will be in charge of swimming and diving teams, which will start working out at the Sam Griner pool at the Bartow Civic Center next week. Justin Martin will have early morning tryouts for the girls and boys cross country teams to set the squad, which will have several big events in the 2013 season. Alex McLuckey, who served as an assistant on the BHS girls soccer team last year, has moved to a position as head coach of the girls golf team. The team will hold open tryouts on Monday, Aug. 5 at the Bartow Golf Course at 9 a.m. The boys golf team, under the leadership of Scott Newell, will be conducting their tryouts at the Bartow Golf Course next week. Coach Christina Smith gathered her prospective volleyball players for varsity and junior varsity in the school gym to prepare for the year ahead. Coach Lamar Collins of the newest program, the Summerlin Academy archery squad, spoke to parents about the tryouts and practices to be held at Union Academy in hopes of repeating their state title and berth in the National Archery in the Schools national tournament. The team earned the honors in its first year of competition. Coach Jason Butler and members of his squad were on hand for prospective football players, which drew the largest interest. Coach Butler will also meet parents and prospective players as well as interested community members at a “Meet the Coach” session at Bartow Golf Course on Friday (Aug. 2) from 5-7 p.m.
Bartow High School co-principal Emilean Clemons was on hand for the event. “I think it’s tremendous,” she said about the gathering and response from the community.
Fall football schedule cards are available throughout the community and residents of the area will start to see more of the fall sports posters with the schedules of several teams listed. These are signs that summer is ending and fall sports season is approaching. There’s a lot of work to be done in preparation for the opening events, but the commitment is taking form. The winning is just beginning.