Sweeping revisions proposed for the Port Aransas ISD athletic program could have Brundrett Middle School students playing softball, baseball and golf as early as next year, and a Marlins swim team competing against District 31-4A schools such as Alice, Flour Bluff, Kingsville King and Tuloso-Midway.
Athletic Director Steve Reaves has already given school board members an outline of the sports initiative for the 2010-2011 school year, and it’s on the agenda to be discussed at 6 o’clock tonight, Thursday, May 13. The board meets at the school administration building, 100 S. Station St.
Football is not mentioned in the sports initiative for next year. Last summer, a group of parents suggested that football be added to the sports program. The board appointed a committee that took a look at the question and reported to the board, but the board declined to start a football program.
Reaves also needs to replace three coaches – Paul Patteson as head boys’ basketball coach, Karen Hall as girls’ softball coach and Larry DeWitt as tennis coach. Patteson won’t be returning to the district next year; Hall has asked to be relieved of coaching duties to make more time for other activities and DeWitt, who filled in as tennis coach a few months after school started, won’t be returning as tennis coach. The district is advertising all three openings, and Reaves said, “We’ll look at where (new coaches) can benefit us the best.”
That still leaves the athletic program short at least two coaches for what it wants to do.
However, school board members have informally indicated during past board meetings that they’re behind an expansion of athletic programs.
Expanding the baseball, softball and golf programs into the middle school won’t necessarily mean fielding teams for those sports during the coming year, Reaves explained.
“The (University Interscholastic League) gives us a window when we can work with middle school students outside school hours,” he said. “That could mean just teaching them the right way to hold a bat, or which golf club is which.”
Reaves said golf – for which he’s the head coach – doesn’t permeate Port Aransas the way it does some communities. As a consequence, students don’t get family orientation to the game.
“I’ve told students to bring their putters to the green, and they’ve shown up with a pitching wedge, because that has a ‘P’ on it,” Reaves said. “It’s not a game kids play with mom and dad on Saturdays around here.”
He said coaches asked to expand the baseball and softball program to the middle school, at least partially because of the advantage it will give them in the future.
“We can start teaching kids the basics of the game, even if we don’t field a team,” Reaves said. “That way, when they get to high school, they already know the terminology and the drills, and they’re familiar with our program.”
Having improved the baseball field with the help of the City of Port Aransas
Having improved the baseball field with the help of the City of Port Aransas (which owns the field, in Community Park), Reaves now wants to fix up the softball field as well. His proposal to the school board is for new clay and dirt for the infield and expansion of practice facilities. The dugout was just rebuilt with lots of community help.
“We’re going to make sure it’s a varsity-level playing field,” he promised.
And with swimmers, Reaves is still feeling his way.
“We’re trying to see what this program will look like,” he said.
One problem is that Reaves has no idea how many students will be interested in a swim team. Another is that the program will be built virtually from scratch, though Nana Ward, who now works with swimmers outside the school system, has been enlisted as a liaison and advisor.
He figures it will cost around $200 per person to field a swim team. Countering the argument that swim suits don’t cost $200, Reaves noted that the team also needs parkas, caps, suits, equipment bags, and – for training and practice – fins and goggles.
The middle school baseball and softball program will need equipment, at a price of around $600 each.
But Reaves came back to the shortage of coaches.
“There’s only so much you can ask one person to do,” he noted. “Our coaches are good, and it’s a very rewarding job, but we can’t overload them to the point where they quit and go somewhere else.”
In his proposal to school trustees, he ended by writing, “The additions of programs and coaches are recommendations of ways to expand the athletic program, but will be dependent on coaches to fill each position and funds to operate the program.”