Middle School Athletics Update
Friday, July 31, 2015 8:45 AM

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MPS has moved to a new model for Middle School athletics.  Instead of being organized and managed by a Middle School Athletics Director, all sports are now run by the High School Athletic Director.  For most Lake Harriet students, that person is Ryan Lamberty at Southwest High School.  Because athletics is run by the High School, however, each student must now participate with his/her High School which is determined by your address, not the middle school or K8 you attend.  This is a requirement of the MN High School League.  Most of the sports that have been available to middle school students will still be offered in addition to all of the high school sports, however, there doesn't seem to be a plan for Flag Football at this time.

Here is the official communication from the athletics department:

The Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Athletic Department is realigning 17 middle school athletic programs beginning fall 2015.  This realignment will expand athletic opportunities for our 7th and 8th grade students.

In addition, MPS has partnered with the National Sports Center in Blaine to host a middle school (grades 6-8) soccer league this fall.  This outstanding opportunity will expose MPS middle school students to premier facilities and exciting competition.  We expect to have 6th grade athletic programming for volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and track in the spring at each K-8/Middle school.

Middle grades student/athletes wishing to participate in tackle football can continue to play through the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.  Students will now have the choice of playing with their attendance area high school.  Minnesota State High School League Bylaw 208.00 states: A student who is a member of a high school team may not participate as an individual competitor or as a member of a non-school team in the same sport during the high school season.

Our plan will be to centralize all middle school athletic programs under each of the traditional seven high school athletic directors, plus the athletic director from a combined FAIR/Wellstone program. These eight high school athletic directors (ADs) will now be responsible for athletic programming at their respective high schools, in addition to their assigned middle- schools. 

The high school ADs will establish varsity, junior varsity, as well as developmental teams under “B” and “C” if necessary to ensure that all middle school athletes have the opportunity to participate.  We believe this new structure will allow middle school athletes more opportunities to participate on high school teams, but will also expand their menu of sports options.   

This realignment should help 7th and 8th grade student athletes grow in a number of ways: learn  the importance of academics as it relates to athletic participation; enhance their skills provided by fully certified coaches as required by the Minnesota State High School League; receive expanded game and practice schedules; and, get an early introduction to the workings of high school communities.

For the 2015-16 school year, district high school athletic participation fees will remain the same ($90 for hockey, $70 for tackle football and $60 for all other sports).  The fees will be the same for all high school and middle school participants.

Reduced fees are available for students who qualify for free and/or reduced lunch ($40 for reduced lunch and $20 for free lunch). Participation fee scholarships are available; please contact your high school athletic director for more information. 

7th and 8th grade student/athletes wishing to participate will do so at their attendance area  high school.  High school athletic directors will work with the following K-8/Middle schools to assist in this transition process.  High schools with their partnered K-8/Middle schools are listed below:  

  • Edison: Marcy and Northeast
  • FAIR: Andersen and Jefferson
  • Roosevelt: Lake Nokomis-Keewaydin and Sanford
  • South: Anne Sullivan, Folwell and Seward
  • North: Anwatin and Franklin
  • Patrick Henry: Hmong Academy and Olson
  • Southwest: Anthony and Lake Harriet
  • Washburn: Barton, Field and Ramsey

 

District transportation will be provided for middle grades student/athletes. There will be a meeting scheduled in early August with Principals and former middle school athletic directors to answer questions regarding this realignment. Parents/Guardians should contact their attendance area high school athletic director with any questions.

Football practice starts Monday August 10th, all other fall sports (cross country, soccer, swimming (girls), tennis (girls), volleyball start Monday August 17th.  Contact your building athletic director for additional sign-up dates and times.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why are you consolidating middle school sports program with the high schools? 

Middle schools had administered six sports independently at each school. Some K-8/Middle schools lacked from full participation. At these ages, there are many programs competing for student/athletes including club teams, Minnesota Amateur Athletic Association, and Park Board offerings.  This new model will align programs more closely with the high schools exposing students to Minnesota State High School League certified coaches, the availability of more games and the opportunity for positive mentoring relationships with current high school student/athletes. 

  1. How will we let parents of incoming 7th and 8th graders know about this? 

A letter for families will be provided to principals that they can send out to families and post on their website. The Athletics Department will also post this information on its website at: athletics.mpls.k12.mn.us

  1. Do middle school athletes pay a participation fee now? 

Yes, it typically cost $25 to play a sport in middle school. But going forward middle school athletes will be required to pay the high school fees which varies by sport, e.g., $90 for hockey, $70 for tackle football; $60 for all other sports. Reduced fees are available for students who qualify for free and/or reduced lunch ($40 for reduced lunch and $20 for free lunch). Participation fee scholarships are available.

  1. Won’t this actually create fewer opportunities to play for my 7th and 8th grader? 

This realignment should create more opportunities for participation given that 7th and 8th graders will have expanded sports options at their partner high school.

  1. I worry about my young son or daughter being around high school students? 

Most 7th and 8th graders will be on their own teams or with 9th grade teams. Their interaction with older student athletes will be limited. Of course, we expect our older athletes to be helpful and role models to our middle school students.

  1. Can my 7th or 8th grader try out for any sport at their attendance area high school ? 

Yes, middle schools students can try out for any sport offered at their attendance area high school.

  1. Who provides transportation to and from practices/games? 

Game transportation will be provided by District scheduled buses.  Additional transportation logistics are in the planning stages and are contingent on the number of middle school students who sign up for each sport. More information will be made available at the beginning of the school year.

  1. Will middle school families have to go to the high school to sign up to play each sport or can this be done at the middle school? 

High school sports start earlier in August than middle school sports so families will need to attend the sports sign-up day at the student’s designated school.  (Information is provided above.)  Families should check the sports forms and physical requirements that must be completed before a student is allowed to participate in a sport.

  1. What if a high school and my child’s K-8/ middle school have different dismissal times?   

K-8/Middle school students are expected to attend their full academic day.  In some cases this may mean that K-8/Middle school student/athletes may start their practice late.  Please work with high school ADs on these specific details as we have different school end-times and practice start times.

  1. Won’t this have a negative effect on schools and players with four existing levels of teams (varsity, JV, Soph. and Fr.) for a sport and the freshman and sophomore teams are paid for by booster club parents? 

Each high school will create additional “feeder” teams as needed and be supported by school funding.  If some of these athletes make it into booster-club supported teams, then their parents may join the booster club and support the team in this way.  Essentially, the support structure would remain as it is now.

  1. Aren’t current ADs already overwhelmed by scheduling and logistics?   

Our ADs are hardworking individuals who will make it work.  There will be more opportunities for student managers and volunteers to help with logistics and paperwork

  1. Will high schools add more coaches as needed? 

Yes, if a specific coach is needed for a 7th-8th grade team.

  1. Are there any special requirements or differences for grade schoolers in athletics such as late games, practices, etc.?  

Varsity and JV teams compete later in the evening at night and on Saturdays. Most 7th and 8th graders will be on teams that compete in late afternoon or Saturday games.  Games involving 6th graders will take place during traditional school days.

  1. Does my son or daughter have to play for their attendance area high school in order to participate ?  

Yes, per Minnesota State High School League Bylaws, all students must play for the attendance area high school for their 7th and 8th grade years.

  1. Are there opportunities for 6th graders to play on these teams?  

No, Minnesota State High School League sponsored programs are only available to students in grades 7-12.  6th graders will have middle school participation opportunities in soccer and volleyball (fall season), basketball (winter season) and track (spring season) in addition to playing on club teams, Minnesota Amateur Athletic Association teams, and/or Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board teams.

  1. When do fall sports start?  

Football practice starts Monday August 10th, all other fall sports (cross country, soccer, swimming (girls), tennis (girls), volleyball start Monday August 17th.  Contact your building athletic director for additional sign-up dates and times.

  1. What happens if we miss the registration date or have a family vacation planned for mid-August?  

Contact your building athletic director for additional sign-up dates and times.  Contact your coach if you will be absent for any practices.