TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — USD 501 is giving its students a new opportunity to get involved in extracurricular activities.
This school year, they’ve added soccer at the middle school level.
“I was very excited that we have another opportunity for our kids to participate in sports, in another out of school activity,” said Activities Coordinator for Eisenhower Middle School Ryan Reed. “Our students were really excited, especially those that don’t play football or the other sports. We have a lot of kids that play soccer at the parks and stuff.”
For years, French Middle School social studies teacher Tracy Light has been waiting for this moment.
“This has been one of the biggest achievements that I think middle school sports has had in a pretty long time,” said Light.
She’s played soccer all her life. Now that the district has added soccer, she gets to coach her students in the game she loves.
“I love teaching,” Light said. “But, I also love coaching because you get to see the kids in a whole new light.”
The district’s Athletic Director Annette Wiles said it provides students with another opportunity to get involved and more engaged in school.
“We’re trying to grow participation numbers,” said Wiles. “We’re trying to get young people and certainly student-athletes to care about the work they do in their classroom.”
While a handful of sports have always been offered, the addition of soccer is garnering interest from students who otherwise wouldn’t be involved.
“They found their home in our soccer program and I think they’re striving to be the best that they can be because they know that this is something that they care about,” said Light.
It’s not just showing on the soccer field. It’s also showing in the classroom.
“We’ve seen the academic success of our student-athletes,” Wiles said. “Many of our student athletes carry higher GPA’s in the classroom than even our general students. So, these student-athletes are held to a standard.”
As a teacher and as a coach, Light couldn’t be prouder.
“I’m just over the moon and I just want to jump up and down and scream at the top of my lungs,” said Light.
The season includes five regular season games followed by a city championship. The middle schools will also be offering girls soccer in the spring.