Marshall championships mark entrance of sports
By Hector Trujillo
San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) students in sixth through eighth grades are taking part in the opportunity to compete in organized team sports during the fall, thanks to an expansion of the district’s new middle school athletics program.
“The district made the decision last year to start middle school sports district-wide in San Diego Unified just as a way to re-engage middle schools, re-engage kids, and get kids prepared for high school and beyond,” said Thurgood Marshall Middle School principal Josh Way.
Basketball, along with track and field, started concurrently back on Sept. 6. Consequently, the Thurgood Marshall Middle School track and field team – coached by Katrina Coffee – won the SDUSD D1 Championship in boys, girls and overall team.
Then, the Marshall Mustangs girls basketball team won a championship in their division in the first week of November.
All students in grades six through eight were invited to tryout and practice for whichever of the two sports they wanted to participate in.
“We started in the spring with only soccer, and it went fantastic. It’s exciting to see our kids represent their school in athletics,” Way said. “As long as the district is going to fund it, we will have it.”
Sports clubs had previously existed at some individual schools but now middle school athletes across the district have access to qualified coaching plus a chance to represent their community in competition against other schools under official district-managed sports at middle schools.
“There’s so much that kids get out of athletics. The thing that I’m most excited about is that kids get to represent their school in their athletic endeavors,” Way said. “You don’t really get that in middle school. That’s a big part of high school, but there’s not a lot of ways where students are able to represent their middle school on the weekends or after school. We have some math teams, we have some science teams, but this is a way for our students to show their pride in their school and that’s something that I’m really excited about.”
Middle school sports teams will continue playing at their neighborhood high school athletic facilities, which also permits these young students a chance to establish a connection and familiarity with their future schools. The district plans to offer additional sports for winter and spring, including flag football, volleyball and soccer.