Middle school sports options expanding for Battle Ground students
July 28, 2022
More students will have access to more options this year as Battle Ground Public Schools continues its rollout of middle school sports. The district is adding girls volleyball and co-ed track in 2022-23, in addition to longer seasons of basketball, soccer and cross country. Except for soccer, all sports will be open to students in grades 6–8. Soccer will be available to 7th and 8th grade students.
Registration for each sport opens a few weeks before the season, with girls basketball and co-ed cross country registration beginning Aug. 10.
This is the second year of a multi-phased rollout of middle school sports in the district. Middle school sports were eliminated in Battle Ground Public Schools following a double-levy failure in 1982 that necessitated budget reductions. Several district surveys showed the return of middle school sports was a high priority for parents and the community and, in 2019, the district’s Board of Directors committed to making that a reality. This commitment, and community support for a replacement four-year Educational Programs and Operations levy last November, ensured the launch could go forward. The initial rollout included five-week seasons of boys and girls basketball and soccer, as well as co-ed cross country.
“I think the student-athletes gained a whole new identity and confidence getting to be involved in middle school sports,” said Lori Wilson, who coaches basketball and soccer for Pleasant Valley Middle School. “I noticed an improvement in their attitudes, work ethic and overall happiness. It was pretty amazing to see what this opportunity has brought to our students and school.”
Wilson said most of her players were sad to see the season come to an end and excited to participate again this year. “I’m excited because the programs are now established and I think we’ll see tremendous growth in our student-athlete’s skills,” she said. “I am also excited to see how sports will impact our school’s overall culture and camaraderie.”
“I know participation numbers will increase,” said Blake Bowers, a coach and fitness instructor at Tukes Valley Middle School. “Some students were waiting to see what this was all about and didn’t join a team this year, but after seeing their friends participating and the excitement it caused around campus, they now want to be a part of it.”
Bowers called the coaching experience humbling. “It wasn’t until the seasons started that I felt the magnitude of what was happening. It filled such a void for students, parents, the schools and community,” he said.
Far from being about just wins and losses, sports at the middle school level helps to build a sense of ownership and community, even for students who aren’t participating directly on the court or field.
“Coaching at the same school where I teach helped me build better relationships with my students in the classroom,” said Wilson, who also teaches STEM classes at Pleasant Valley. “Students saw me in a different role and I saw them differently as well. That provided a new level of respect between both the teacher and student.”
“I didn’t realize how rich the experience was going to be and the impact being made on all involved,” Bowers said of his time coaching. “These experiences and growth only come from being involved, and I’m so humbled to be a part of it.”
If you’d like to get involved in shaping the lives of young people and the community, the district is seeking both head and assistant coaches for the upcoming middle school sports seasons. Visit the Battle Ground Public Schools jobs page for a list of open positions and details on qualifications and how to apply.
Middle school sports will take place over four seasons in 2022-23, starting with girls basketball and co-ed cross country from Aug. 31 through Oct. 14. Students will take part in several weeks of intramural scrimmages before moving on to competition with other schools in the district. Athletes can take part in just the intramural scrimmages if they choose.
Registration for the first season begins Aug. 10. Families can register using Family ID. A completed sports physical is required for students to participate. Physical clearance is good for 24 months. Middle school students attending the district’s Alternative Learning Experience schools (River HomeLink and CAM Academy) can participate in sports at their neighborhood middle school and must live within the boundaries of the school.
Students who participate in middle school sports pay an ASB fee and individual sport fees that cover some program costs such as transportation between games and officials.
Battle Ground’s local school levy pays for middle school sports equipment and coaches’ salaries. The district is able to fund student activities beyond basic education and continues to be fiscally responsible while maintaining the lowest local school tax rate in Clark County.
To help manage the cost of reintroducing the middle school sports program, sports will be phased in over several years and use existing facilities. Future sports under consideration include wrestling, football, golf and Unified Sports.