Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Letter of the Day

Athletes want strong program

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Re: Elite athletes, the free agents of high school (Dec. 8). The idea that student-athletes are switching schools for a one-time shot to win a provincial championship misses the bigger picture. While I don't dispute there are instances where that does occur, I would suggest the majority of movement results from a desire to become a part of a strong athletic program, especially if that student has athletic aspirations beyond high school.

The article quotes Ross Metcalfe as saying, "we all know there are schools known for their powerhouses" and that is indeed true. If one takes a look at the AAAA volleyball provincial champions of the last 15 years, only six different schools have claimed the girls' titles, while seven schools have claimed the boys' titles. The consistent and repeated success of these schools can be attributed to the excellence of their programs built over time, not by a last-minute addition of a talented player.

Within these schools, staff have been hired who are capable and willing to coach and develop strong, competitive athletic programs. Where that is not possible, outside coaches are utilized and provided with appropriate staff assistance. Administration is accommodating and supportive. A school that takes pride in its athletic programs and makes it a priority will be recognized by both student-athletes and their parents.

Instead of bemoaning the idea the school of choice system is unfair, I see it as opportunity and motivation for more schools to improve their own athletic programs. In today's competitive environment, if you want to keep your best student-athletes, give them a reason to stay.

KELLY BOWEN

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2012 A11

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