'Let's Use Our Passion' to Save Middle School Sports

Teamwork can save our kids' sports programs.

This week, many of us learned that middle school sports were being cut. There were many who have voiced,right here on the Patch, how disappointed they are with this decision. Many voiced their anger, and others were indifferent.

I have two school-aged children, both play Little League Softball and Baseball. My daughter a sixth grader in middle school started her years being very much an introvert. Last year we signed her up for Softball. My husband and I were in awe of her confidence shortly after becoming part of a team. She has always been a hard worker and excelled academically, but playing a sport did something to her confidence and her approach to life in general that sold me, as a parent, on the importance of organized sports. She recently expressed her interest in joining the track team and I am heartbroken that she may not have that opportunity for another few years and hopefully by then, the confidence and desire to join the team will still be there.

Children can be extremely egocentric. Team sports keep their egos in check. They quickly see that everyone gets to play and they  begin thinking as a team, not as individuals. They learn to celebrate other player’s successes because they understand how it benefits the entire team. 

They learn patience and the importance of practicing to be better instead of tossing in the towel when things don’t go right. They learn persistence and problem solving and even negotiation skills!

Most importantly, they are surrounded by positive mentors - a priceless gift to those who have no parents, are in foster care, or out on the streets after school hours unsupervised, bored and looking for "something to do."

Dedicated, skilled coaches can have an amazing impact on a child help to keep our kids focused, driven, competitive, and SAFE. You’ll see that kids sometimes respond better to their coach’s direction than their own parents. There is a level of respect, and they continue calling them “coach” long after they’ve played for them! I see this with my own husband when we bump into adults today that he once coached.

Instead of pointing fingers at a group of people faced with a very difficult task, let’s use our passion in a productive manner to come up with a solution to this problem. Are there grants available out there? Do we have volunteer coaches?  Fundraising? (In my opinion should be mandatory for all team members). Is there any way we can ask parents if they are willing to contribute financially to the sports, understanding that many are without means, instead of removing it all together?

There are some local meetings that will be taking place to constructively come together to find solutions. This platform here, and those meetings should not be used to express anger, or to vent or point fingers at city council members, school committee members, or our government in general. Let’s use our passion to benefit our kids. Teamwork is the ability to work together as a group toward a common vision/goal, even if the vision or goal becomes extremely blurry at times.   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lmanchester February 17, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Nicely Said! Where are these local meetings?
June Coan February 17, 2012 at 11:42 PM
There will be a meeting at a studio thats behind Dunkin Donuts on Warren Ave. It's the building that has a tattoo parlor and pet groomer. I need to double check the name and address but it's on the second floor. That will be monday night. Another one will be Feb 29th at 5:30 on Sprague St. (the school house) for the KRob Foundation, he will be doing something.
June Coan February 17, 2012 at 11:55 PM
If anyone is interested, I have a group page on Facebook for middle school sports, I'll keep it up to date with any info on meetings or changes to the situation of the sports. Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/EPMiddleSchoolAthletics
June Coan February 17, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Yes there are grants out there and no, we as coaches aren't mandated to fundraise, although I think we should. I know not all coaches do, and I know I'm one of the few at the middle school level that fundraises for my team. I have also set in place a way (for my team at least) that parents could contribute to help out. But it's not across the board for all teams.
June Coan February 18, 2012 at 12:00 AM
ALL CONCERNED EAST PROVIDENCE PARENTS !!!!! monday night i will be having a meeting at my studio to get talks under way to help save our kids middle school sports ... 2399 pawtucket ave 2nd floor STUDIO 360 .....THIS IS WILL TAKE PLACE AT 7:30PM ... this is a meeting to get ideas rolling about raising the money for our kids .. NOT TO EXPRESS ANGER OVER THE CUT AND VENT ABOUT POLITICIANS !!!!!!! there will be a second meeting on FEb. 29th at 5:30 at the Little Red Schoolhouse at 20 Sprague Ave. in Riverside HEADED BY Robin Adams Robinson AND Kevin Robinson ... IF WE ALL WORK TOGETHER THERE IS NO WAY THAT WE CANT HELP THESE KIDS (This is the info given about the meetings)
Tonya Borello February 18, 2012 at 12:05 AM
June, Thank you for posting this info. I think it's great that you do fundraising. I agree with marti that it should be mandated by all team players. Not just coaches; Parents, volunteers, and the players. I have given many donations at Shaws and Stop and Shop. People dont usually say no to kids asking for sports donations. GET 'EM OUT THERE!
Debbie February 18, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Wouldn't it save money to have the sports for both middle schools but only one team for each school. That way it would consolidate the programs, save money and the kids can still play. Granted not all kids would make the teams but that's also a life lesson for them.
June Coan February 18, 2012 at 04:51 AM
there are now student groups being formed as we speak on FB speaking out on the decision about sports being cut
Abigail Crocker (Editor) February 18, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Thanks for the updates June. (Not only is Patch a news source, but it's a place to foster community dialogue, find solutions. I encourage everyone interested to write letters, blogs, etc. Reach out to me at abigail.crocker@patch.com.)
June Coan February 18, 2012 at 05:06 PM
The meeting on monday that I mentioned above, Mr. Tsonos will be present as he has info.
Marti Monteiro February 18, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Thank you for all the info above and for taking the time to facebook me your comments and sharing them here.
Lmanchester February 18, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Personally I think it's all just a scare tactic. I think they are using this threat of canceling sports as a means to get everyone up in arms, thus volunteering up cuts, and making their job easier. 100K is NOTHING COMPARED TO THEIR MILLIONS in their education budget. Just my opinion.
Dermody February 18, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I partially agree it's a scare tactic. Sadly they know it's not a risk most parents (good parents) are willing to take. It makes sense though that they would put the kid in the line of fire in order to make the next cut seem like less of a blow and a better alternative. What about the cuts in textbooks etc? are there meetings being held for that, because truthfully, your kids have a better chance of getting an academic scholarship then they do a sports. I'm definately against the cut of sports but while you are all meeting, hold them accountable for all of it. Maybe it's time daft drive a more modest car and sell Benz. Talk about rubbing your success in communities face as we all get raped with taxes!
Marti Monteiro February 18, 2012 at 08:11 PM
It's very easy to get sidetracked with anger, especially when we feel we've been taken advantage of. I truly believe that the important issue is the kids, and finding a way to get together in a positive manner to make a difference. That's my goal. I have zero interest in pointing fingers and casting blame because it doesnt solve problems. It's a tough, unfortunate situation but it is what it is, and we have to do what we have to do. Thank you for your feedback.
Dermody February 18, 2012 at 08:18 PM
it's not a belief, it's a fact. I most definately have been taken advantage of, as have all of you. We're fighting to keep our jobs, our homes and then we get hit in the pocket all around. This is outrageous, it's embarrassing. You can't help but point fingers.
Govstench February 19, 2012 at 02:55 PM
When you have runaway budgets, this stuff happens. Schools falling apart, sports and other programs (to be announced over time) being chopped, all because the city is spending money it doesn't have. You can blame the fat labor contracts that everyone enjoys along with the health and pension benefits that the taxpayers pay for. And what does the taxpayers end up with? What you have today. A mess. You vote in the same people over and over, and the bad behavior continues. The sports is hitting one group of people that are mad. People who like arts programs, music programs will also be upset when those get cut. People have to get organized and form taxpayer citizens leagues to take back your schools - government. The pols have had it and the public unions have been playing the system like a fine violin. The bigger question is what are the taxpayers going to do about? Cry, or organize and take back your government. Remember, this once great city used to be an All American City! Look at it now - heading for another Detriot!
r February 19, 2012 at 07:44 PM
New slogan: "Better than Central Falls" and not by much , no other city has the state budget commission. That's the hard truth. Vote on election day and don't get fooled again.
Tonya Borello February 19, 2012 at 09:06 PM
I agree with Govstench, I think that is what the citizens are finally trying to do by holding these meetings. Hopefully this doesn't just solve the sports issue but brings these other issues to light and the citizens do take back their city. Folks you need to recognize that there is strength in numbers. You are the voice. You are the tax payers. Unite and work together and get back the "Townie Pride" i heard so much when I bought my, now for sale, house here. Gov-- I think you should spearhead the project!
June Coan February 19, 2012 at 11:57 PM
There's been a change in the meeting for this week: ALL CONCERNED EAST PROVIDENCE PARENTS !!!! due to the estimated attendance of the meeting at my studio , we had to change the location and day of the meeting . the meeting will be on WEDNESDAY 7PM AT THE COMEDY CONNECTION ON WARREN AVE. remember this is about saving our kids middle school sports and not our personal issues with the city and its officials . the goal is to formulate good ideas moving forward and not turn this into an heated argument . lets all come with a level head and SHOW WHAT TOWNIE PRIDE is really about!!!! sorry for any inconvenience but i would rather have everyone comfortable !~ Donnie Senna
Ron C February 20, 2012 at 02:52 AM
I disagree Ms. Coan/Ms. Senna; This whole issue IS most definitely about the officials running this city. It IS about three people making decisions who were never voted in by the voters of East Providence. It IS about the Governor of our state who thinks he can overrun local governments at his whim. We need to organize to offer our kids sports but also need to take the group message to the Governor's office and the budget commission meetings. If they don't want to listen then we need to shut every meeting down. The room they meet in only holds a certain number of people...we need to overflow that room and shut them down and continue to shut them down until the Governor's office hears us loud and clear. You can't separate the two and hope to succeed.
r February 20, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Message needed to be sent to the school committee and the city council. Not the budget commission. State is here to help, city had no more cash. They were not going to make payroll. Broke, the check book was empty and they took away the credit card. It's not about sports , it's about poor managemnet. Sports are the casualty. Working on the reccomendations of the B&E consultants.
Joe Botelho February 20, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I've talked to four other residents with a combined toal of 200 years of coaching experience in baseball and basketball that would volunteer their time. Working on equipment and transportation costs. It can be done, if allowed by the city.
Govstench February 22, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Thank you Tonya for the compliment. I am working behind the scenes, especially in the high school to suggest ways of bringing that school back to what it was - a great place to learn. It will take time and resources to undo the years of neglect inflicted on that building. I am doing a "white paper" on the spending in the school systems and have picked EP and another district in South County for this project. In the mean time, you along with your neighbors and friends can band together to form citizens leagues to get the discussion going. It won't be easy but it has been done before - look back in the 60's when the citizens banded together when a popular city manager was fired - all those on the council who voted to fire him were not re-elected for another term. It can happen if people get involved. Again, thx for your support.
Govstench February 22, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Ron, you won't accomplish anything by attempting to shut down a lawful meeting and getting arrested. While this budget commission is not popular, it will at least bring the city back from the brink of bankruptcy. When a city spends more than it has for assets, that's bankruptcy! The General Assembly made this law to head off of bankruptcies that are coming, and they are coming. The council has had numerous opportunities to straighten this mess out but instead played politics with it. You simply can't ignore the mountain of debt that has been accumulating over the years.
Tonya Borello February 22, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Glad to hear that. I think reaching out to others with a positive outlook and an audience is a great idea too! Such as this young lady that is clearly passionate about this issue, and wants the best for her family here in EP . I enjoy her blogs a great deal; reach out to her and help to get others involved. Enough is enough.
Paul February 22, 2012 at 04:30 PM
This is an admirable initiative proposed by Ms. Monteiro and others. In order to truly be successful and earn the support of the people of East Providence, it should be, as she suggests, apolitical. The extent to which this initiative can be led by parents and powered by students, while steering clear of taking political sides, will dictate its ultimate success. As an aside, and to further enhance public support, a fund-raising initiative to be considered would be to have the students take part in the clean-up of public spaces around the City. A student asking form money at the supermarket with a sign that reads "Support Middle School Athletics. I just cleaned up the Agawam Playground" is infinitely more effective than just "Support Middle School Athletics". Good luck!
Dermody February 24, 2012 at 03:21 AM
what was the outcome? I am hoping they came to their senses.
Clean Up February 25, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Lets get rid of the Text Books, Field Trips, Band, Lunch Program. Heck lets just have the kids stay home. We will close the schools and save on heat and electricity too. This will be cheaper. Then we can give all the school department workers a ten percent raise.


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