Cutting school sports would be a tough call |

Cutting school sports would be a tough call

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich

I could not have imagined walking through the doors of Glenwood High School in the fall of 1978, my senior year, and finding out that the basketball program had been cut due to budget shortfalls, or that I would have to go to another school in the district to dribble the roundball.

Playing sports is pretty much what kept me coming to school during my high school years, and also served as motivation to open a few books while I was there.

Though my 2.6 grade-point average and hefty score of 17 on the ACT will never qualify me as an automatic entry into the GSHS academic hall of fame, sports proved invaluable in keeping me going to class and studying so that I could stay eligible to play, and be with my basketball buddies.

Equally upsetting would have been to find out that some of my favorite teachers were missing because of the same money matters. Not being able to soak in all of the good books that Sandra Browning and Greg Andersen introduced to me in their wonderful literature classes would have most likely dampened, or never ignited, the love of reading that I feel they were primarily responsible for.

Whether it’s tennis, golf, swimming, wrestling or English literature, I feel bad for the kids who may have to lose out on some school sports and academic experiences, or have to travel to another town to be on a combined school team.

There are always solutions to problems if a little extra effort on everyone’s part is involved.

Having taught at St. Stephen’s School in Glenwood and the Garden School in New Castle, both private institutions, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for people volunteering more of their time – fundraising, cleaning, and basically scratching and clawing in any way possible to keep the school doors open, programs going, and making sure the needs of all students are met.

We fielded a cross country team at St. Stephen’s with no budget. I volunteered to coach and run with the kids, and parents provided transportation to meets and covered the cost of the entry fees. The kids had a good time, and many of them continued their running careers by competing in track and cross country at local public high schools.

The director of the Garden School could be considered a standout track athlete in her own right. She is constantly running around to auctions, yard sales and library sales in order to keep the school properly outfitted, and expenses at a minimum. She also coordinates volunteers – including students – to paint, lay carpet, move furniture and deliver pizza. Whatever it takes to make things work at the time gets done.

My only noteworthy distinction in more than 20 years of teaching is that in every building I was in my class was a favorite of the custodian.

At the end of each school day, the kids would straighten up their desks, clean the room – including using the vacuum and empty the trash. We even did some windows and shoveled snow in the winter. It lessened the load on the janitor and provided a good lesson in cleanliness and work ethic for the kids. Schools can get by with a few less custodians if teachers and kids do their part to make order and keeping things clean a priority.

Many things can be accomplished when everyone feels a sense of urgency and decides to pitch in to make a tough situation work. School sports, academic programs and teachers can be saved by people giving more of their time and effort.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent.

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