Leveling the Playing Field

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By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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There are solutions to life’s problems, but there are also factors preventing those solutions from being implemented. In the case of schools, the difference can be either academics and athletics, or academics vs. athletics.

Some kids grow up reading books, but the vast majority grows up playing games. Mental preparedness is good, but physical activity is fun. The dilemma of which has the greatest value has been a debate for ages.

When we hear of students receiving scholarships for academics we often think of something around a couple grand. When we hear of a sports scholarship, we think in terms of a “full ride.”

To supply a student with a couple textbooks has seldom been an issue, but to put a student into shoulder pads and a helmet is a big deal, as is providing a level playing field.

Do parents want their kids growing up to be doctors and lawyers or quarterbacks and golfers? Either way, the competition is fierce.

Although not necessarily true, we often see large public schools as great institutions for athletic success; small private and charter schools as being more cerebral. The original idea was balance, now it seems to be money.

“We had to make a lot out of a little when it came to field time,” said Colin Dalton, former head coach of Western Sierra Collegiate Academy’s baseball team, “Especially in our first couple years, when we were leasing the fields at McBean from the city of Lincoln.”

Western Sierra, or WSCA, is one of those “academic” charter schools located in Rocklin. However, it is also a school where many students discover athletics; where in a larger public school they may never even try out for a sport.

But if one chooses charter over public, does that mean choosing academics over athletics? – not necessarily. Public schools turn out some very learned students and private/charter schools often have some surprisingly good athletes.

So, how to level the playing field?

Private schools are privately funded and pay for what they are looking for. Public and charter schools are publically funded and often have to play politics to get what they want.

Now that McBean Stadium is home to William Jessup University, WSCA now has to travel 15-20 minutes to their new “home field” Westwood Park in Citrus Heights.

Dalton said the travel time, whether to McBean or Westwood, cost his team at least two hours of practice time a week when compared to schools with adjacent facilities. And when rain muddied Westwood, Western Sierra practiced in their parking lot.

_ To be continued.