~By Woodland Park School District~
The new year has brought new athletic opportunities for the students at Woodland Park Middle School (WPMS). Athletic Director and Assistant Principal, Erin Street, shares that the new Tri-County Athletic League allows for 6th grade students to compete, and WPMS will be piloting the program with their boys’ and girls’ basketball programs this school year.
The Tri-County Athletic League, whose other member cities include Buena Vista, Florence, Canon City, and Salida, allows for students to begin developing their athletic and other fundamental skills earlier in their educational career. WPMS will be utilizing a model of A, B, & C teams versus the traditional 7th and 8th grade teams, which will allow student athletes to compete at varying levels of experience and competitiveness.
“The impact of COVID has also played a role in this expansion,” said Yvonne Goings, WPMS Principal. “One of our key learnings from COVID has been the importance of connection for our students at all grade levels. 6th grade students are special because they are willing to try new experiences since everything is new.”
Traditionally, WPMS 7th and 8th grade students have been the main participants in the school’s extracurricular programs; however, in more recent years the middle school began to expand their offerings to 6th grade students with opportunities in cross country and wrestling. In the Fall of 2022, WPMS will also offer 6th graders the ability to participate in volleyball, basketball, football, and track.
“We are so thankful that [our daughter] Evie gets to play basketball even as a 6th grader when it’s usually only 7th and 8th graders,” says Stefanie Rohman, WPMS 6th grade parent and educator at the school. “Evie has only played sports through Parks and Recreation which is a great introduction to sports. Getting to play at the middle school level, with the coaches who are invested in the athletes and educating them well, has been challenging and hard for her, but her growth will be astronomical! I’m excited to see how she grows during this season and on into her future!”
WPMS hopes that these increased offerings will encourage more students to participate in the school’s athletic programs, and begin to develop these key skills at an earlier age. Assistant Principal Street looks forward to the positive energy these opportunities will be for 6th graders when it comes to their overall middle school experience. “At the middle school level, we want students to know they are a part of a special community. Expanding our offerings creates more of a cohesive feel and school spirit. Go Panthers!”