May 7, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterI try to ride my Honda Ruckus scooter as often as I can. In fact, at The Ranger, there are now four of us who have scooters that we sometimes use for our commute.
They are steady, reliable vehicles and are fun to ride. My black machine is the coolest looking of the four. Of course Steve, Wayne and Darce have different opinions about that.
So, as I was zipping to the office last Friday morning, the ride was especially was refreshing. I knew that my evening would be spent watching high school kids compete on a soccer field, far removed, it seemed, from the dark cloud that hung over Riverton High School last week when the head football coach resigned after postseason turmoil in the program.
Those athletes I was about to watch would be like us on our scooters, I surmised. They, too, were trying to get somewhere and wanting to have a little fun along the way.
And fun they had. Two weekend wins equated to Riverton High School's third boys conference title of the 2012-13 school year.
Let's not forget how successful this season has been for the Riverton Wolverines.
Like basketball, the soccer team competes in Wyoming's largest classification, Class 4-A. Riverton, remember, is just about the smallest school in the big school leagues, making the championships in those two sports even more impressive. But it is also remarkable that our football team ran the table in its Class 3-A conference.
Noticeable has been the commitment that coaches Dick Quayle in basketball and Erly Cornejo in soccer put in with their athletes along the way, coaching many of them in youth programs when they were were just 10 years old and younger.
But while riding our scooters, we have to think about where we are going and how we are going to get there. We learn to avoid some streets with more bumps or traffic. Some routes, we've learned, just work better. We need to plan how we ride.
Just over a year ago, I wrote in this space about a North Dakota school district that created a strategic planning committee and brought forth its recommendations to make the district's athletic programs not only good, but the most successful in the state. There was debate about what success met, and it wasn't all about winning. Their goal was to make sure, from youth programs through high school, that athletics were coordinated.
I also wrote that, "Right now, for example, we have a fifth-grade girls competitive basketball team, but not a spring girls team in the sixth or seventh grades. Why is that? Some argue that, if you don't have the right connections, it is tough to work your way onto a youth AAU volleyball team... Some Riverton varsity coaches try to reach down to elementary and middle school athletic programs, but for others, the vertical integration of communication and program development lacks."
Our superintendent, school board chairman and activities director all said last week that their goal was to make Riverton's football program, and all sports programs, among Wyoming's best. Superintendent Terry Snyder said the coaches are just one piece of the puzzle that includes players, parents, teachers and the community.
It takes a plan, and the administration is looking again at how head coaches are hired, evaluated and held accountable.
At least one Wyoming school, not much larger than Riverton, asks its head varsity coaches to hire not just their assistants, but also coaches at the middle school level in their program.
As the cloud lifts from RHS football, let's make sure that the vertical integration of all of our sports, from youth to high school, competitive and intramural, is a priority and is coordinated. Let's meet the superintendent's goal of getting everyone on the same page as we move forward.
Let's find and ride that best route.
And let's have fun along the way.
Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!
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