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Middle school sports important to competing

As of late, you will notice that I have not only been covering sports for the Southwest Times as I usually do, but now I have been doing regular news stories as well. After doing so, I never realized just how close the two sides could come until I went to cover a School Board meeting last week.
Proposed in the many budget cuts needed to close the large deficit is the $40,000 that is being spent every year on the many sports – including volleyball, basketball, football, track, and wrestling – being offered at the middle school level.
While it is necessary to make the cuts to get under the deficit, I think that $40,000 is hardly a scratch on the surface of the money that will be needed to get us out of the shortfall.
A while back, the issue was brought up about why are high school sports teams aren’t winning. Many school systems start from the bottom at the recreation leagues, develop to middle school and AAU, and by the time these kids reach high school, they are ready to compete at a high level.
Without these middle school programs, the competitiveness of our sports in the county will suffer tremendously, as many athletes will not be prepared for what they face at the high school level after coming straight from middle school.
If these cuts do indeed happen, we need to rely on our recreation league sports and AAU teams more than ever to keep our kids in great physical shape as well and have experience with athletic competition.
I think one thing that does sadden me is that if the two schools merge, the death of a Pulaski-Dublin Middle rivalry will also occur. It will no longer be the Orioles against the Dukes. Instead, we will be one unit together now.
However, that can be a benefit. If we were to keep middle school sports and merge the schools, there would be several extremely competitive unified middle school programs. After covering both middle school basketball programs, I cannot imagine taking some of the kids from both of the squads and putting them on the same team. That certainly will help their chemistry as they develop as a team to the next level.
I really think it is a shame that we have to look at this issue and many other issues as either a keep or discard issue. Hopefully, our town can get through this tough time and move on to much better times in the not to distant future.

– Cody Dalton is a writer for The Southwest Times in Pulaski. He can be reached at (540) 980-5220 or at cody@southwesttimes.com.

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