All CKSD freshmen should play in high school

At least that’s what I’ll be arguing in my Friday prep column.

In many parts of the country where middle school is 6th-8th grade and high school is 9th-12th grade, allowing freshmen to play isn’t an issue. The best freshmen make varsity. Good ones make JV. The ones who aren’t good enough either make it on a freshmen team — some schools have ’em, some don’t — or get cut.

In Washington, an overwhelming majority of school districts follow the middle school/high school model, but there are a few like the Central Kitsap and South Kitsap school districts that still use the junior high (7th-9th)/high school (10th-12th) model.

The rule for freshmen participating in sports is basically this: if the junior high offers the sport, freshmen must play it at the junior high level. That includes football, volleyball, wrestling, boys/girls basketball and track and field.

If the sport isn’t offered at the junior high level, freshmen can play it in high school.

But here’s the thing: that rule only applies to freshmen at two high schools — Olympic and Central Kitsap — in the CKSD. At Klahowya, which is a secondary school, all freshmen can play at the high school level. Since Olympic and Klahowya are in the same league, that doesn’t seem like a level playing field.

I’ve spoken with coaches at Olympic and Central Kitsap who’ve voiced their displeasure at what they believe is an inequity in the system. These coaches are hopeful that change may be coming, but some are pretty pessimistic.

CKSD’s Co-Curricular Committee has studied the issue and discussed several plans of action, one of which would be to move freshmen up for all sports as soon as next season. CKSD superintendent Greg Lynch planned to make a decision on the subject at the beginning of April, but with news that Lynch will leave his post at the end of June, I wonder if this is an issue that will continue to be discussed for some time.

2 thoughts on “All CKSD freshmen should play in high school

  1. I am glad that this issue is being reconsidered. I remember playing at South Kitsap High School for football. Because we were (and still are) a 10-12 High School most players missed a year of not only the experience of playing and practicing with the team, but the ability to do off-season conditioning, weight-lifting, and/or other training. I believe that this “loss of a year” puts 10-12 programs behind 9-12 programs. It also stretches these coaches to monitor the high school team as well as ensure that the junior high programs are conducting programs that will allow efficient transitions the next year.

    However, I think that an important factor in this issue is that because the junior highs and high schools are in different locations, student-athletes need reliable transportation from their junior highs to their respective high schools. Some schools are relatively close, but there are several where students would have a decent commute. In the past situations where students are permitted to play as freshmen at the high schools, transportation was provided by the parents. Carpooling was often done, but I do not recall many issues because in SKSD there were only a few sports allowing freshmen to play at the high school. If freshmen were permitted to play at the high school, an argument could be made that the districts would be obliged to provide transportation for these student-athletes. I think it would be unfair to place the burden on parents who would need to leave work early in order to pick-up student-athletes to make practice start times which are in the early afternoons in most cases.

    I think that the other issue that needs to be considered is that the elimination of freshmen sports at the junior highs allows less students the chance to participate in sports. When transitioning to South Kitsap High School to play both football and baseball, I remember that there were a significant amount of athletes who stopped playing or were cut at the high school. While it is possible that freshmen sports could continue at the high school or junior highs, I wonder what this change would do to the participant turnout.

    Hopefully, a solution can be worked out that addresses this issue, but does not negatively impact academics or the learning environments. In my opinion, extra-curricular activities and athletics are vital to the social and academic success of students.


  2. Agreed, agreed, BUT it needs to happen when the freshman have moved up to the High Schools – not before. Also, many of the Junior High coaches think the average athlete will stop participating in sports if there is not a freshman team available. There was a poll done – in district – of the junior high coaches and none of them thought it was a good idea to have all the freshman play at the high school level before they have the 9 – 12 high schools.

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