The Washougal School District is set to expand its middle school athletic program.
Southwest Washington Middle School League administrators have approved a proposal to immediately allow sixth graders to compete in cross country and wrestling, Canyon Creek Middle School principal Jake Healea told Washougal School Board members during an Aug. 8 meeting.
“Our coaches will be on board with that, and we anticipate that our families will be really excited about that, especially after a time when we were talking about (possibly eliminating middle school) sports (altogether), and people were really concerned about that,” Healea said. “Now we’re talking about potentially adding more sports, which gets kids excited about being part of their school and builds a pipeline toward high school.”
Previously, the league allowed only seventh and eighth grade students to compete in football, cross country, volleyball, boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling, knowledge bowl, and track and field.
“There’s some really good coaches who are putting in a lot of time, and I know they’re going to be excited to see some of their sports expand to sixth grade because they’re always looking to recruit more kids and get more people interested in (athletics), especially wrestling and cross country,” Washougal School Board President Cory Chase said during the meeting.
Jemtegaard and Canyon Creek sixth graders will compete together on combined teams, according to Healea, who added that the district should not incur any additional transportation expenses but might have to hire additional coaches.
“The number of coaches is based on the number of players,” he said, “so there is the possibility that additional coaches could be needed if a large number of sixth grade athletes turn out for the sports.”
Chase said the league should allow sixth grade students to compete in track and field as well.
“You would have all three seasons (covered), and they all would be co-ed,” Chase said. “In Washougal, historically, we have great turnout at the high school for track, and at the middle school level, we have pretty good participation as well. I think those three (sports) kind of hit the mark for our community. Cross country has good participation in middle school and high school, and similar for wrestling and track and field. If we could push (that proposal), that would be great.”