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Junior high baseball coach raises concerns


July 24, 2013
Evan Aldridge, junior high school baseball coach, brought several concerns to the attention of the Crawford County School Corp. Board of Trustees at their July 16 meeting at the administration building near Marengo.

Aldridge informed the board that he believed his team was not being fairly treated by the athletic administration.

"We are only given the month of June to practice and play as many games as we can," he said.

Aldridge named the athletic director as an integral role in the responsibility of helping to develop young athletes and said his program hasn't seen the same support that others have.

"As a middle school sport associated with the school, there was no transportation provided for the kids," he said. "Not a single mini-bus was allowed to be used."

He also voiced his astonishment that other teams have been scheduled during his practice times because the other sports, such as basketball, are not supposed to take precedent over an "in-season" sport, but he was able to work it out so his students could participate in both.

"The decision was that, on the days we had practice and they had a scrimmage, they would go to basketball," Aldridge said. "However, on the flip side, when we had a game and they had a practice, the kids would come to baseball."

He said he then learned from parents that their children who had chosen to attend baseball activities because it was their in-season sport were told they shouldn't be invited back for basketball.

"I was even more troubled when I had one of my own players tell me this was true, that a coach had told him he shouldn't invite the kids who had chosen baseball back [to basketball]," he said. " What message are we sending to our students and athletes?"

"For a coach to make the kids choose and an athletic director that doesn't provide the same as other sports during the year is not only hurting our baseball program, but it also allows kids to learn that, if you aren't doing a sport that is important to the basketball coach or A.D., that you're not important in athletics."

Trustee Dennis Talley was one of the first to speak in support of the baseball program.

"Baseball is not a failing program in this county, and we need to do everything we can to support it," he said.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge said he will look into the allegations and speak with the athletic director, Jerry Hanger, in order to see what can be done about scheduling conflicts in the future.

In another matter, Crawford County Junior-Senior High School band director John Fisher presented the board with information on three of his full-time volunteers to complet their criminal history checks and get ready to go for the upcoming marching band season.

Fisher's main reason for addressing the board, however, was a credit assignment request for his marching band students.

He asked that the board consider allowing marching band to be counted as a physical education credit. Currently, all freshman students are required to complete two semesters of physical education.

Many schools have gone to an activity replacement program to help overcrowded P.E. classes and to assist students involved in after-school athletics based activities.

"We are allowed to do that," Brandon Johnson, CCJSHS vice principal, said. "It is something we've been looking at, especially with the overcrowding in our P.E. classes."

He said that the technicalities are still being worked through, but they are striving to have the option in place for students by the time school is in session.

Fisher's request would allow members of the marching band, and possibly drumline and color guard, to earn physical education participation credits for their work in the band program.

All trustees, as well as Eastridge, expressed they are in favor of the request.

The last thing Fisher brought to the board was the possibility of reimbursing his full-time volunteers for their time.

"The band program is growing," he said. "We have about 35 percent of the school enrolled in the seventh grade for marching band stuff."

He said that, with all of the responsibilities associated with band and color guard, it isn't possible to do everything without volunteers.

"I would really like to look at developing a stipend for some staff members," he said. "Even if it's small at first."

Fisher said if the school were to provide a stipend for the full-time volunteers, it would release some band booster money currently used to pay the volunteers to be used instead for the program.

Trustees agreed to evaluate the budget to see if they can consider the request.

"I think we need to think about, as a corporation, funding these positions," Trustee Danny Mitchell said. "We pay assistant coaches for our sports programs."

The board of trustees also approved Eastridge's recommendation of Marcus Burgher IV as the corporation attorney.

In other news, a surplus sale will take place on Friday, Aug. 23, at 5 p.m. For more information, contact the administrative office at 365-2135.

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