The Jacket Journal

Why Not, Woodford?

A look into Woodford County's head coaching staff's thoughts on elementary sports

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Why Not, Woodford?

Delaney Enlow and Nia Jaco

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When did you begin playing sports? Elementary, middle, high school or never? Many kids discover their favorite sport at a very young age, but they do not have the opportunity to play until they get into middle school. We sat down with some of the coaches at Woodford County High School and asked what they thought about the prospect of elementary sports.

The more exposure to the game a player has had, the greater the skill level they have in high school”

— Coach Jaco

Coach Jaco, the Woodford County Girls Head Basketball Coach, has coached high school basketball, football, track, and baseball. Throughout his fourteen years of experience, he said he has noticed the difference between athletes who started playing sports in elementary school and those who did not. “The more exposure to the game a player has had, the greater the skill level they have in high school,” said Coach Jaco. He stated that athletes who are exposed earlier have more knowledge, and have had more time to develop their skills, which causes them to be more advanced than athletes who were not exposed to sports early in their childhood. He believes that, if a child truly loves a sport, he or she should have the opportunity to play when they are in elementary school.  

They understand the rules of the game better, and their fundamentals are more developed when they start at an early age.”

— Coach Johnson

Coach Johnson, the Woodford County Football coach, and the head Athletic Director for Woodford County High School gave his opinion on this matter. Johnson said, “I do see a difference in the athletes who started playing sports in elementary school. They understand the rules of the game better, and their fundamentals are more developed when they start at an early age.” Coach Johnson also mentioned that the recreational leagues at Falling Springs are a great way to get young children involved in sports, however, he believes it would be more beneficial to have sports based in Woodford County elementary schools. These sports would be run by the head coaches of the high school and middle school. “This will help the athletes understand what is expected of them when they reach the high school level,” said Johnson.

Coach Wilson has coached high school basketball for fourteen years and he also coached one year at Georgetown College. The Woodford County High School Boys Basketball head coach gave us his opinion on how to improve youth sports in Woodford County. Wilson stated that he also notices a difference in athletes who start at a young age. “Athletes who started playing young have higher skill levels, however, they tend to get burnt out,” said Wilson. He said that the burn out is mainly caused by the pressure a child is under at such a young age. Wilson believes the best way to improve our youth programs in Woodford County is to improve the communication between the high school coaches and the recreational programs. Coach Wilson believes these programs should focus more on fundamentals and teaching the rules of the game, rather than just winning. Even Coach Wilson played basketball through his elementary school, “Every Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm there would be basketball at the schools. It was what we looked forward to during the week.”

To summarize, the earlier an athlete starts, the better off they are. So why don’t more kids start sooner? Most kids don’t want to go to a recreational league because they do not know the other kids. Most parents don’t see the point of sending their kids to a program that does not have experienced coaches, or at least coaches that have been taught what to teach the kids. These issues make it hard for kids to get to play sports at an early age. Wilson said, “Kids will come to camp. We know they wanna play, but why is there 100 kids at camp and only 50 kids who sign up for the rec league?” Most of the coaches at Woodford County High School see the same issues, and they seem to have the same idea for resolving them.

Instituting an elementary league within the Woodford public system would solve many complaints and encourage more kids to play sports. If the league was actually at the elementary schools, then the program could be well structured. “We can offer a coaches clinic for the coaches who may not know what we want to be taught at that level,” said Wilson. The high school coaches could instruct the league coaches on what they need to teach. The kids would be playing with their peers who they attend school with. Transportation issues would be eliminated since the children are already at their school. If the schools sponsored this league, more kids would be informed on it and feel more welcome to the team. Jaco is very fond of this idea, “This could give every kid a chance to play a sport.” Many other areas in Kentucky have instituted this program. Western Kentucky schools, including, Graves, Carlisle, Marshall, Calloway, and McCracken County, have programs for all ages that are sponsored within the schools. So why not, Woodford? 

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Why Not, Woodford?