Tulsa Public Schools bring more sports programs to middle schools

TULSA, Okla. — Last year, FOX23 told you about an effort from Tulsa Public Schools to expand sports in middle schools.

As a result, Carver Middle School started a girls’ softball team, lead by FOX23′s Janna Clark. It was the first girls’ softball team in school history.

Now, Janna is now leading the team for its second season as head coach. 16 girls are on the roster.

“I’m like, really really happy,” said Harper, a member of the team. “Because if we hadn’t had a softball team now, then I wouldn’t have been able to play and get this experience.”

Mick Wilson is the Athletic Director for Tulsa Public Schools. He spoke about the importance of sports in middle school.

“I think the competition aspect, kids learn how to compete in a healthy manner,” said Wilson. “You learn that sometimes people are counting on you, and need you to do your part in order for the team to be successful.”

Tulsa Public Schools is working on adding more sports after cutting athletic programs in recent years. “It was probably about six years ago, we went through some trying times financially, and we had to make some difficult decisions,” said Wilson.

Wilson also said that participation and overall numbers are up. This school year, teams have been added at Edison Middle School and Rogers Middle School.

Tina Garner’s granddaughter Kaydence plays on Carver’s team. “It’s given them a sense of responsibility, keeping their equipment, getting to practice on time,” said Garner.

Students must also pass classes to stay on the team.

Wilson said the district was able to raise stipends for coaches this year, which has helped recruit and keep coaches on staff. Some coaches at the district, like Janna, volunteer to coach.

All TPS middle schools added cross country and track, while some schools added softball, wrestling, and swim team.