Thursday, April 12, 2007

Even more on varsity girls rugby...

Given that it's spring break for most teams and this varsity status question has generated a lot of interesting responses, let's kick it around a little more. I decided to start a new post and ,link back to the post here to draw attention to the fact that the comments are on-going.

One commentator had some positive things to say which I think are worth repeating:

There are no negatives to interscholastic athletics...none.

Providing opportunities for student-athlete enrichment never has a down side.

Parents, BOE, AD's, coaches, teachers, community leaders will find a way if they have the students best interest as their focus

I agree with these points, and would add that if all individuals involved came to the table around a particular sport with these beliefs, there would be a lot of positive results. The attitude of the players, rugby coaches, parents, as well as school leaders and coaches of existing sports, is essential to moving forward (as the commentator appropriately coined it).

I have one more thought (for now), based on a conversation I had recently with a school administrator. Club sports should not come to the table demanding varsity status and demanding resources. This only creates conflict or potential conflict between the school community and the club. Rather, club sports, such as rugby, should come to the table and offer something of value to the school community, i.e. a new opportunity for student involvement and a set of supportive volunteers.

At this early stage in the game, having a positive school-club relationship (which allows teams to form an identity around the school and increases recruiting/publicity opportunities) far outweighs any short term gain from having varsity status. Varsity status will come over time as a result of overall growth in the sport, and not through pressure by individual clubs on individual school athletic programs.

I would note that other models, i.e. the community based model, have been very successful. Vernon has built its program through its park and recreation department. The focus on varsity/school based rugby should not overshadow the fact that local park and recreation departments have been and continue to be a real resource for the girls rugby clubs here in Wisconsin.
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