"We as adults supporting student-athletes look in the mirror and not out the window," said Athletic Director Jamie Sims.
Sims and Assistant Athletic Director Ben White presented a year in review and plans for the upcoming year at the school board meeting on August 23, 2021. The past school year served as a lesson in creativity and adaptation for the athletic department.
"I think it was a phenomenal year considering all that we had to put into place in regards to protocols and in regards to the expectations of our athletic staff. It looked a lot different than a normal school year," said Sims. "Nonetheless, we felt like as a department we rose to the challenge and did a good job with running our programs and making sure they are putting our kids' safety first while still being very competitive."
Despite the challenges, the athletic department came home with four state champions, three individual state champions, and two state runner-ups. The girl's tennis team and boys' volleyball team also were granted the best sportsmanship award.
A great team isn't whole without all of its players, which is why the department plans to highlight equity this year. Sims explained that it is their job as educators to ensure a welcoming environment for all students. They kicked off their new philosophical approach during the first coach meeting in July.
Discussing race and equity is a component they plan to implement into every meeting. Whether that be discussing best practices or ensuring they communicate effectively with athletes, their families, and the media. They also are working on developing a year-long learning program for their staff.
To be a great teacher, you also have to be a great listener, which is why Sims and White started the Student-Athletes of Color Alliance. This group hopes to provide a platform to ensure that the BI POC student population's educational, professional, and social advancements are heard.
The department also noticed a need to support the middle-grade levels further. By setting up tables in the lunchroom, students will have the opportunity to meet with high school coaches and learn about the options the athletic department has to offer. The goal of this event is to form meaningful relationships between the coaches and the students. This way, students will be well informed and comfortable entering high school-level athletics.
Being part of a team doesn't always mean being on the field. Currently, the department is working to create additional supportive roles for students with disabilities and special needs. Some of these roles include assisting the coaches and working with the team during practices and games.
Some would say that brains and brawn don't mix but not for Middleton High School. Their studies proved that students involved in athletic programs have a significantly higher GPA average than students who do not participate in any activities.
Even so, everyone needs help sometimes. When emailing parents about the student's academic ineligibility, Jamie explained that he was careful to include precisely why the student was ineligible and the steps and resources needed to improve. Thankfully, his efforts were well received, and students could hold themselves to the department's academic standards.
Thanks to Jamie Sims and Ben White's hard work and the rest of the athletic department, students can look forward to a great year of camaraderie and competitive fun.
Catch you on the field!