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Chat about the upcoming high school sports season with Steve Grant

August 14, 2006

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Steve Grant is the athletic director at Free State High School. He'll take your questions about the upcoming high school sports season.

Moderator:

Welcome, folks. We're glad to have Steve here to answer your questions -- we've got plenty of room for more questions, so go ahead and submit!

Steve Grant:

Hi everybody, and thanks Joel for the opportunity to do this. I hope I can shed a little light on high school athletics here in the next hour or so.

Moderator:

Steve, you probably saw Sunday's J-W story about the costs of playing high school athletics - $50 to register, and hundreds or even thousands more to participate. Is this a barrier to participation?

Steve Grant:

You know, to be honest, I don't think so. I'm not sure this was made clear in the article - I think I'm speaking for Lawrence High and Free State, and all four junior highs - we'll never let a kid not participate in fine arts or athletics because of finances. If they need help with the activity fee or the participation fee, we'll find a way to help them out.

Easy_Does_It:

I have a child who participates in Cheerleading. At the beginning of the school year we pay in an amount that the coach has determined was needed to cover various activities and materials. The amount is substantial. Who does the accounting for these funds? Are there ever internal audit type reviews of the amounts spent and the final accounting. Also do other activities have the same fees such as football, basketball etc? If so what are the amounts required to participate in those activities? I believe cheer is possibly $600 per year?

Thanks.

Steve Grant:

I know cheerleading is expensive, and it has been. We've surveyed all the Sunflower League schools and they're all at least as much as Free State and Lawrence High, and in some cases more. All that money goes through the finance office here at school - much of that is to pay for equipment that the cheerleaders and dance team use, that they keep, that is not returned and use from year to year. There is an accounting that our bookkeepers use to track how much is paid. Prior to tryouts, candidates are given a list of equipment they'll need, how much it costs, that sort of thing. Everything from what it costs to go to camp to pom-poms to shoes, so that everybody knows up front what the cost is going to be.

Getting back to the other question about how it stacks up to other activities - just this past week, I think that was the subject of the article with the information about the costs for all sports. Prior to the start of the school year, parents are given a brochure with that information.

I'm referring to the brochure now. It lists the costs - some are much more expensive than others. On the high end, I'll throw out golf. Golf is in excess of a thousand dollars, because kids need shoes, they need golf clubs, they need a golf bag -- it's fairly expensive. Cross country is fairly inexpensive, about $200, because all they need is shoes and shorts to run in. It's a wide range for various activities.

Moderator:

Here's the article that was in Sunday's paper:

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/aug/13/gearing_high_school_sports/

Moderator:

Referring to the article yesterday, I think volleyball was a very expensive sport - the cost was $4,500 for that particular student. Which wasn't typical, because that student participated in a tournament during the summer that advanced to the national tournament, so there were travel expenses. From our standpoint, does the student need to participapate in those offseason programs to make the team? No, the coaches don't require it. Does it help them become a better volleyball player, swimmer, golfer? Yeah, it does.

Moderator:

Sorry. That last message was Steve's added answer, not the moderator commentary.

Moderator:

What is the value of high school sports?

Steve Grant:

I could point to all sorts of studies that point to how a student performs academically if a student is involved, not just in sports, but in all sorts of co-curricular activities. The studies are full of information about more time spent in class, higher GPAs, that sort of thing. I think participation in activities, and again not just in athletic activities, but any activity, enhances a student's educational experience. That's the value of it -- they perform better all around if they're involved in something else.

Moderator:

We've seen that the Free State football team is projected to have a good season. What about the other fall sports?

Steve Grant:

We've got some outstanding coaches. Football has been given a lot of preseason publicity, returning a lot of kids that had varsity experience, so I think expectations are pretty high for them.

The other sports: Volleyball is coached by Nancy Hopkins, is in a similar position as football. They return quite a few girls who had varsity experience, so I think Coach Hopkins and her staff expect a successful year, as well.

The Sunflower League is a very tough, very competitive league with regard to volleyball. Every night that they compete, they're up against tough competitoin. It'll be a tough season, but I'll think we'll do fine.

Cross country, coached by Steve Heffernan. Coach Heffernanis so passionate about the sport of cross-country, his passion and enthusiasm rub off on the kids. They've been consistent over the years, and I don't see this year as any different. Steve and his staff do an outstanding job, and the kids do an outstanding job, too. They'll do fine, they'll do great.

Boy's soccer, Jason Pendleton is the head coach. Soccer's kind of a numbers game. If you get a good number of kids out and there's some competition on the team for starting positions, you tend to do well. Our numbers are good for the soccer team -- we do have pretty high interest. Jason sets some pretty high goals and they have pretty high expectations. Year in and year out, the boys' soccer team has been pretty successful. Once again, the Sunflower League is the premiere league in the state when it comes to soccer. I'm confident we'll put a good product on the field. We'll do OK.

Steve Grant:

Next one: Gymnastics, Kathy Johnson is the head coach for Free State and Lawrence High. They work out together, but they compete independently. In gymnastics, Sunflower League is the state -- there aren't a whole lot of gymnastics teams. Interest, it's tough to say. We haven't had a practice yet. Usually we have a half-dozen kids and so does Lawrence High. It's numbers, trying to get kids who are interested to come out. Lawrence High is the defending champion, they've won the last two. ... It's been a successful program, and Kathy does a great job with the kids.

Steve Grant:

Girls' golf: Craig Hersheiser is the head coach. We look to probably have eight to 10 girls out this year. We've got some kids coming back who competed last year. Some girls I know spent time playing golf and practicing over the summer. Hopefully that will lead to more success this year.

The final one is girls' tennis. The head coach for that one is Jon Renberger. This is our 10th year for Free State -- year in and year out, tennis, both girls and boys, has been one of our most consistent programs. We've done quite well with regard to tennis. Coach Renberger does a super job, we go to a lot of tournaments, gets them ready for regional and state. We've had good success.

Moderator:

What percentage of FSHS students do athletic activities?

Steve Grant:

That's kind of a tough question, because we go by numbers. We've got 1,250 kids in school -- when you count the numbers, we come close to 1,200 kids, because some do two or three sports. When you talk about individual kids, it's close to 400 or 500, about 35 or 40 percent. We'd love to have 100 percent. One of our goals here at Free State, that we talk about a lot, is we wouldlike to see every single student involved in some cocurricular or extra-curricular activity. That's something that the entire staff works on, the get kids involved. As I said, it's good for them, it enhances their experience and they tend to perform better academically if they are.

Moderator:

OK, one last question: Who wins The World Company Cup this year?

Steve Grant:

It's ours until they take it away from us. I was talking to Tom Keegan, and told him it was great. He said, 'You didn't like it when you were down 8-to-4 last fall.' I said, 'No, but at the end of the year it was the best idea ever to come from the Journal-World.' We don't have as many state championships as Lawrence High, but we have the first ever J-W cup.

Comments

Tony Kisner 8 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the link to the article.

I guess before actually reading the article I repeated some of the same questions.

As a parent I think the parent groups such as cheer/dance supporters can put financial pressure on others with out much consideration for each family's ability to pay the fees. I witnessed the group pressure in action several times. Although I think the cheer coach did a good job of keeping fees as low as possible I do believe that the coaches leadership on keeping fees low and possibly telling parent no to some expenses is important.

Also if at the end of the year I receive an accounting of how the fees were spent I might feel a little better. I sometime felt the response from the coach was "it all works out in the end". - Maybe a flat fee, the possibility of some funds going unspent and a refund being ruled out would be better.

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