Find the Perfect Fit
Football, basketball, baseball, cheerleading, track. Fifty years ago, athletes in Mississippi high schools did not have many athletic options. Today, however, Mississippi High School Activities Association recognizes 16 different sports and 4 different activities. What does this mean for students in Mississippi? With more sports being offered, Mississippi has more student-athletes than ever before.
Increasing the number of sports and activities benefits not only the student but also the school and community. In the article “The Case for High School Activities,” the National Federation of State High School Associations cites numerous articles of research showing that students participating in school activities have “better educational outcomes, enhanced school engagement and sense of belonging, positive youth development/life skills, healthier behaviors, post high school positive results . . .” among other benefits. Basically, there are numerous benefits to participating in a school sport, so encouraging your child to participate seems like a great idea. However, not every student can be a cheerleader or play on the varsity baseball team. This does not mean that he or she cannot participate in athletics; it just means that he or she must find the sport that is the perfect fit.
Do you have a child that loves to hunt? If so, archery may be his or her passion. Don’t worry, the school won’t hand over a bow and arrow without having a trained coach to supervise and instruct. Coaches complete a certification class through The Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Passing a test is required before the certification is complete. Archery equipment used will be that required by the National Archery in the Schools Program. Archery doesn’t have to end upon graduation either. Student-athletes can continue competing on through college.
Maybe it’s time to invest in a pair of bowling shoes because bowling can become more than just a weekend hobby for a high school student. Bowling season starts in October and runs through February, so when the weather forces everyone indoors, your kid can be competing for a state title in bowling.
Not everyone can run sprints like Olympian Tori Bowie; some runners prefer to test their endurance by running distance races. Cross-country events consist of runners competing against one another on a 5-kilometer course. When asked about running, retired Pearl coach Woody Barnett, former coach to many state championship teams in either track or cross country, said, “Running is a life long activity with many health benefits! Pre-seventh grade students wishing to join their middle school
cross country teams as a seventh grader can begin a low mileage running program on their own. Maybe some interested parents can start a running club or get with an existing local club. The key is to have fun!”
Is your child the family putt-putt champion? If so, then maybe you should invest in a set of golf clubs. Golf is a very popular sport that people can play their entire life. In high school golf, competitors play as part of a team and can compete for an individual championship. Getting your child golf lessons could not only lead to success in high school sports but also a lifetime of good times on the links.
If you have to tell your child to get out of the swimming pool three times before he or she actually gets out, swimming might be the sport for him or her. Swimming differs from other sports in that being able to swim could be the difference between life and death. For young swimmers, Sunkist offers year round competitive swimming. For more information visit the Sunkist website at www.sunkistswimteam.com.
Rodger Federer makes tennis look easy, but it took years of practice and playing to get him to the elite level where he is at today. Perhaps your kid is the next Rodger Federer. Kids can begin learning tennis as early as three years old. Programs like “Ready to Rally” introduce children to the sport with minimal monetary cost. Tennis players have the opportunity to participate in Junior Team Tennis before and even while playing high school tennis. You can learn more about getting your child involved in tennis by visiting mstennis.com.
Does your child love playing volleyball at the family 4th of July cookout? If so, that love can grow through recreational volleyball, junior high, and high school volleyball. Local recreational volleyball teams allow players to learn the basics and gain match experience even before 7th grade.
Today, schools offer a wide range of athletic options. Students have the ability to find the sport that fits his or her needs and strengths, so encourage your child to try a variety of sports and find the perfect fit.
By Beth McKay