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COMMENTARY

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD

Part II: Entering the political arena
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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Last week I wrote about the struggles Western Sierra Collegiate Academy (WSCA) has faced trying to find facilities in which to participate in sports. The academy is a charter school located in Rocklin, but the local institution has found it difficult to find local fields to play on in Rocklin.

The city has a resolution that prioritizes local citizenship when any non-profit organization enters into a memorandum of understanding with the city for the use of its public facilities. Where WSCA comes up short is its student body is made up of children from the surrounding areas, as well as Rocklin.

With an emphasis on academics, initial attention was not given to the school’s athletic programs and the academy’s participation in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section sports. Now that WSCA has grown and entered into the high school arena of football, basketball, soccer and baseball, those involved have found it difficult to find places to practice and play.

However, the school does have a good gymnasium on which to participate in basketball and volleyball.

Kevin Cooper, the father of an academy student and baseball player, has been working to try and resolve the facility-access issue. But he has discovered that the problem goes much deeper than simply trying to find a field of grass on which to play.

“So what I’ve been doing, I’ve been trying to get the Rocklin Academy folks to re-energize themselves to be looking for facilities,” Cooper said, “and negotiating with Rocklin School District.”

Although WSCA is a school within the district, the allocation of school funds is based on the number of Rocklin children who attend the school and not on those students coming from other districts. That issue has led to having to secure field space from cities outside of Rocklin.

Former Western Sierra baseball head coach Colin Dalton said that has led to added travel time, which cuts into practice time. He said the academy school board was also reluctant to pursue funds through programs like Mello Roos in order to finance sports facilities.

In 2014, the Rocklin City Council established a residency requirement for priority use of city facilities. It was raised to 95 percent in 2016 and put WSCA under the heading of: “Non-profit groups with less than the required residency will be considered at staff discretion.”

Although Cooper was told use of the city’s fields by organizations meeting the 95-percent requirement have virtually negated discretionary use, he said he does not believe that to be true. He said he has served as a coach for youth organizations using the city’s fields and said there were always blocks of times when the fields were not in use.

Rocklin City Council Member Joe Patterson said the city’s playing fields are oversubscribed, especially fields designed specifically for baseball and softball. However, Patterson said there are solutions to the problem.

Patterson said, whether it’s the city council sitting down with Rocklin’s charter schools to discuss long-term needs or quicker remedies through simpler means, there are solutions.

“In the long run, we’ve got to work on solutions,” Patterson said. “It’s a bummer to me Western Sierra has to travel to other cities to use their fields.”

_ To be continued.