The Blue Valley middle school wrestling program has been around for three years now and district athletic director Lane Green said growth has been steady since that first season in 2014.
The wrestling coaches approached the district’s student activities committee, who can make recommendations to the board of education.
“The committee is represented by two students from each high school, two parents representing each high school,” district athletic director Lane Green said. “It’s represented by three of our board of education members. It’s represented by high school and middle school administrators, and it’s represented by district administrators, including myself.”
Green said they were looking at ways to enhance middle school athletic programs. They thought a middle school wrestling program would be an outstanding addition as it’s an abbreviated season.
It lasts about three or four weeks and each team participates in three meets including the district-wide meet, which was held on Nov. 10.
Green said the middle school teams would go to the high schools to train, which is where the mats are.
“We have wrestling mats that aren’t being used at this time of the year,” Green said.. “We have the coaching personnel to get it done. We established a pay scale to do it at the middle school. In most cases the kids aren’t wearing singlets, they’re wearing shorts and a shirt. It’s the type of thing where the infrastructure is in place. It’s not near as complex as what Shawnee Mission would face when they added football.”
Green said the cost to add football is far greater because the field, goal posts, pads and helmets.
He said it was an easy program to put in place because it comes after middle school football, but before high school wrestling and middle school boys basketball.
Inserting a program at the middle school level, truncated or not, helps the future development of the high school programs as athletes learn what those programs’ systems.
“At the middle school level, it’s a time in a kid’s life for exploration,” Green said. “We want them to try different sports, different activities, pursue different interests. There’s plenty of time down the road in high school to narrow down the sports and activities. The good thing about this is it gives kids a chance to dip their toes in the waters; to have exposure to it and say, ‘I’d like to do this in high school.’ It’s a great way of promoting a great sport.”
Green said there haven’t been discussions regarding specific sports, but said the possibility of adding more in the future is tremendous.
“You’ve got to have three things,” Green said. “You have to have interest in the sport, you have to have the money and you have to have the human resources to administer the program and coach the program. We’re always open to exploring different opportunities, not just in athletics, but in activities for our kids.”