Loudoun Considers Middle School Sports, Opening High School Programs to Eighth Graders

The Loudoun County Public Schools Department of Athletics is exploring various options to bring sports to the district’s 17 middle schools, including modified program offerings, intramural programs, and opening high school sub-varsity athletics to eighth grade students.

District Athletic Supervisor Derek Farry and his staff developed the potential programs with insights from Prince William, Fauquier, and Frederick counties. Neither Fairfax County nor Arlington County offer middle school sports.

Board member Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge) expressed enthusiasm about continuing to explore options.

“There is study after study that shows a strong correlation between exercise and sports and academic performance,” Serotkin said.

Launching a full-fledged, varsity-like program comes with a hefty price tag, which Serotkin said at this point is not a viable option. The first year start-up costs would be $9,457,919, and annual operating costs in years following would be $7,822,854That modified schedule would offer volleyball and cross country during the fall, basketball, sideline cheer, and wrestling in the winter, and soccer or lacrosse in the spring.

The accessibility of facilities is the largest impediment to creating sports programs at middle schools. Not all middle school facilities have playable baseball and softball fields, or competition tracks, for example. 

A more feasible option would be an intramural league, which would cost an estimated $291,900 per year. The proposed program would offer flag football, soccer, volleyball, badminton, floor hockey, and basketball through after school, grade-level tournaments. The largest cost consideration for this plan would be the $6,348 stipend for each  middle school activities coordinator. Equipment, trophies, and medals would cost about $76,000 annually. Transportation would cost about $20,000 annually.

The third option would be to allow eighth graders to participate in sub-varsity high school athletics, which includes the junior varsity and freshmen programs. Farrey pointed out that this would assist some programs that aren’t always able to fill their rosters with enough students. 

Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn) was concerned that this option might take away opportunities from ninth graders who lose roster spots to younger athletes.

Farrey said that such an option would build community among school cluster.

However, Farrey also said that middle school principals are more concerned with meeting the needs and interests of their students by allowing them to form clubs and student groups, which athletics might detract from. 

The options will be presented to the full School Board during its Oct. 28 meeting as an information item.

7 thoughts on “Loudoun Considers Middle School Sports, Opening High School Programs to Eighth Graders

  • 2021-10-22 at 11:32 am
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    I think LCPS has enough problems without embarking on an ambitious sports program for Middle Schools. Several organized sports activities for sixth through eighth graders already exist. Why not focus on establishing an Academy of the Arts? That idea has been kicking around for quite some time. As JFK said: “The Arts are far from an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation. They’re close to the center of a nation’s purpose. And they’re a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.”

  • 2021-10-22 at 2:05 pm
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    When you can’t fulfill your basic core mission to citizens, don’t try something new.

    Of course, with thousands of students fleeing LCPS year-over-year, the School Board needs to come up with a new reason to spend all that money they have.

  • 2021-10-22 at 11:23 pm
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    I’d like to see home school kids participate in the sports programs for their school district. Their parents pay taxes. The people who exclude them are Democrat politicians. Their petty and vindictive policies are disgusting. They take out this sick and spiteful behavior on children. That tells you all you need to know about them.

  • 2021-10-23 at 9:03 pm
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    How about DEMANDING ALL TEACHERS restrict homework assignments to not go beyond the policy limitation so the kids have time to go home, pet the dog, do chores, enjoy some family life and participate in Loudoun Parks and Recreation programs is they so choose to? How about recognizing that homework is supposed to be REINFORCEMENT of what was covered in class meaning any student who is already getting an A or B in aa class should NEVER BE PENALIZED for handing in homework late? 🙂

    • 2021-10-24 at 3:58 pm
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      You are spot on, Bob. Teachers are trying to do so little in class these days that they leave the teaching to students, who have to do hours and hours of homework to learn what they’re supposed to be learning in class. The higher you go in LCPS, the less help you get, too.
      When my last child finished up at LCPS this past June (thank God!), she told me that she used to love school but something changed a few years ago when most of her teachers became lazy and non-caring. She showed me her emails where she would ask teachers for extra help and they would go without any responses.
      Once again, I am thankful to be done with LCPS.

  • 2021-10-25 at 12:25 pm
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    I’ve played sports my entire life and belief they are critical for physical and social growth. My kids played at Dominion HS. However they played little league baseball,lacrosse and peewee football with kids that eventually played at Park View and Potomac Falls. They socialize with kids from Sterling Middle,, Seneca Middle and Riverbend Middle. When these teams played each other the boys were all friendly which I think is beneficial for them as they grow and move on to college with kids from different schools and environments. I would not support middle school sports which pigeon hole the kids with limited experience.

  • 2021-10-25 at 6:29 pm
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    I think this article is wrong. Arlington County has had middle school sports for decades, and still does as far as I know, unless they were cut VERY recently. I do see an article from May of this year saying they MIGHT be ended due to budget cuts, but I don’t see anything saying they were. All the schools still have pages up on their site about their sports.

    It seems like a no-brainer to have sports. Kids are in worse shape than ever, and obesity is common. We can do this!

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