By DAVID HUNTER
Courier Sports Writer
After a several lengthy meetings, a new measure passed unanimously to benefit middle grades sports during the July 14 Cannon County School Board meeting,
The plan includes the formation of a basketball team and cheerleader squad made up of student-athletes from all six K-8 schools to go along with the traditional teams and squads from each program. It will also give Cannon County the option to add more sports teams like a middle grade volleyball or soccer team in the near future.
"There were so many people who have expressed a desire to see this happen," School Board member Shelley Walkup said via email.
"I want to see our children have the opportunity to be involved in extracurricular activities. This was not just for basketball but all sports available for our middle grade students," she said.
"Basketball just happened to be one sport that had already been established like all schools/districts had been in the past. I know many districts are probably going away from the grades 5-8 basketball program like what we currently have but I enjoy it and I know the kids and parents do too," Walkup said.
It required several meetings and compromise to get this plan to work out the best way for students, she said.
"I do not refer to this as an all star team and I do not consider it that. It is a middle grade sports team. They will have the opportunity to travel outside of our county to play other teams," Walkup said.
The plan calls for each of Cannon County's six elementary schools to keep their own basketball team and cheerleading squad. Those six schools will compete against each other during the regular season, concluding with the county championships.
At the end of the regular season, a select team of basketball players and cheerleaders will get the chance to compete against teams from around the state.
This was one of seven recommendations considered by the newly-formed Cannon County Middle Grades Sports Committee, which is comprised of all the principals, all CCHS head coaches, two board members: Walkup and Bruce Daniel, and CCHS principal Mike Jones. With the debate over, the measure passed in just a minute during the July 14 meeting.
The Middle Grades Sports Committee also made six other recommendations.
1. Any coach ( who must be 21 years or older) of any Middle Grades Sports team must have a background check and drug test as well as School Board approval before access or involvement with students.
2. The Middle Grades Sports Committee will meet again no later than March 2017 to review and assess the first season, discuss adjustments and improvements and add no more than one sport per year.
3. The committee approved Matt Rigsby to be the Middle Grades Sports Director.
4. The committee approved for this upcoming basketball season to serve as a transitional period for athletes to become adjusted to the proposed system. Upon the end of the elementary school season, tryouts for a girls and boys basketball middle grades team