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Score one for middle school sports teams

Middle school basketball and volleyball will again be offered in Red Wing schools next year.

The Red Wing School Board approved 5-0 a proposal at its Monday meeting to re-establish seventh- and eighth-grade boys and girls basketball and volleyball for the 2013-14 school year.

"It seems like something like we need and would make a big difference for our kids," Activities Director Matt Schultz told the board.

The middle school programs were cut starting in the 2008-09 school year due to budget issues. Since then, community groups, such as the Red Wing Basketball Association, have been the only option for middle school students to play team sports.

"The community has really stepped up in last several years with association offerings," Schultz said. "I don't want to completely squash their offerings."

But Schultz said that costs associated with those groups can make participation difficult for some families.

"If you can't afford to be on a traveling team, it's going to be hard to pick up that sport in ninth grade," he said.

Re-establishing the teams will cost the district about $15,000, Schultz said. That would cover the salaries of six head coaches and six assistant coaches and costs for transportation and officials.

The cost for uniforms is anticipated to be anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000, and things like new basketballs, volleyballs and volleyball net repairs could cost another $5,000, Schultz said.

"I'm hoping that we have some community support for start-up costs," he said.

Schultz said he anticipates that each team would have about 25 students on it. Student fees would come in at around $90, though scholarships and multi-participation could reduce that.

The programs would not be run concurrently. Girls' basketball would run from November to December; Boys' basketball would run from January through February; volleyball would begin on the first day of school and end in late October.

The middle school teams could play area schools, including Lake City, Goodhue, Hastings and Ellsworth, Schultz said.

Board member Janie Farrar said the sports would get kids active in a healthy, safe environment and help give them things to do after school.

"I'm really excited about this," she said.

"There's definitely a need," Board member Paul Kramp added.

Board members Mark Ryan and Steve Anderson were absent from Monday's meeting.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.