SOUTH WHITLEY — There has been a lot in the news recently about the decision by Whitko Community Schools to consolidate the middle school and high school at the current high school campus in South Whitley.
With such a move comes a lot of changes. Bus routes have to be reorganized, some teachers may have to move to a new classroom and the lunch schedule needs adjusted to accommodate more kids. There are some plans though that have already been ironed out as the changes to athletic programs have already been put in place.
Whitko Athletic Director Josh Mohr oversaw the combination of the middle and high school programs. Not only did the change have some affect when it came to scheduling games, but Mohr had to put together the puzzle for finding places for the teams to practice as well. So far, Mohr says the new process is working fine.
“We have enough space. With the numbers we have, we should be fine,” said Mohr. “We just have to do what’s best for the kids and the programs.”
Last summer Whitko prepared a field for the soccer teams adjacent to the varsity and junior varsity football practice area. Those soccer fields will provide plenty of room for two teams to practice at once. Plus, Mohr said they can still utilize the outfield of the baseball field if necessary, which might be the case now that the middle school football teams will need a spot to practice.
Mohr said he did run in to a couple of scheduling conflicts for volleyball. Whitko has the main gym and the auxiliary gym, which can be used for practices. But with middle school volleyball needing the floor of the main gym for games now, the gym at South Whitley Elementary might have to be used for more practice time also.
The cross country teams will continue to practice and have meets at the middle school. Sixth-grade runners who are now in the elementary buildings at Pierceton and South Whitley will be transported up to the middle school for practice. The same holds true for sixth graders who are playing football, they will be transported to the high school campus for practice.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Mohr. “We’re going to adjust as we go for those things we didn’t see coming.”
Mohr added that there is one benefit for the younger athletes who will now be at the high school. The middle school players now have the opportunity to see what a varsity practice looks like. It also gives them more of a chance to interact with the older players and build some relationships that can be supportive both on and off the field.
Practices for all fall sports began at the end of July. Girls golf begins playing in meets first, but all other sports are quick to follow. Volleyball, football, soccer and cross country all see their first game action in the middle of August.