I don’t log in much anymore to post but this topic hits me very close. Feel free to disagree with me...won’t hurt my feelings and I probably won’t login to reply or post again for a while regardless.
I remember when the middle school STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS were an open tournament held at Campbell County High School. We have come a LOOOOONG way since then in this state, but I would like to ask everyone to evaluate a few things in regards to all of this.
We are comparing ourselves to the states around us with pretty good wrestling...but let me ask why would we want to emulate most of them? Consider:
ILLINOIS: pretty sure they are AAU sanctioned/have their own athletic association for elementary/middle schools. I pulled up their calendar for THIS season, and all pre-season paperwork has to be in by November 1. Practice cannot begin until November 29, regular season begins December 6, Regionals are Feb. 26, Sectionals March 5, State March 11. The latest they will schedule state finals is April 2 this year (I’m assuming COVID or snow related).
INDIANA: I know for a fact because my brother has coached and taught up there in the Indianapolis area since 2016 they have ZERO organization state wide. His conference starts practice in December, wrestles duals and tris in January and February with a conference tournament the first weekend in March. The conference to the west of them? They only wrestle in January (practice December). He came down here last year around Christmas and was telling me he wished their coaches would organize state wide. It’s more of a localized thing in Indiana from what he says, with each conference doing their own thing. His conference doesn’t even have to use certified officials!!!
OHIO: part of the STATE HIGH SCHOOL association which sets their season limits and post season...what I know I would like us to get to but others I’m sure don’t...which is ok!
TENNESSEE: I taught and officiated down there in the Nashville/Murfreesboro area for a year...and it is by far a cluster. One conference I worked with literally practices for a week then wrestles duals for 2 weeks...a 3 week season all completed by the end of October. Another conference practices at the start of November, and wrestles the entire regular season in December...1 tournament after Christmas break. Others wrestle more of a true regular season (start in November with practice and season starts on the first day of December), but they are all finished with their conference tournament at the end of January/start of February. There are MAYBE 3 weekend tournaments for middle schools in Tennessee that I was aware of (and realize the officials association I was a part of serviced from the KY state line all the way down to the AL state line...biggest association in the state) all season long up until their “State” Tournament (which is an OPEN tournament). Their AAU state tournament is scheduled for March 5 with their State Duels being the next day this year.
Our middle school regular season this year is literally 4 and a half months long this year if we hold states in March (Nov. 6-March 12)...for reference the high school season is 3 and a week (Nov. 24-Feb. 26). Both start practices officially October 15 (tomorrow). When I coached last year and the year before, I literally had parents tell me when they saw how long the season was they couldn’t commit to that type of time with a middle school athlete. What’s the solution? With the nationwide shortage of officials right now on top of this I’m not sure!! But it’s NOT extending the season past high school season in my mind.
I’m not trying to call out anyone by any means and if you feel I am I apologize!!! I just wanted to throw some facts out there for everyone to consider. Is the answer to all of this asking to be pulled under the KHSAA banner like Ohio? Is it emulating Illinois and starting a middle school association as a separate entity for sports as a whole? Is it going to “pockets” like Indiana and Tennessee (my brother’s team in Indiana had 60 kids last year...for reference he teaches in a school district 5-square miles in size with no bus system and the middle school is literally the smallest in the conference size wise...I think they teach roughly 450 students grades 6-8) to grow the sport and then revisit coming together as a whole? Pros and cons to all. Like someone earlier said...we need to be finding solutions to these issues right now because if not...we are going to have bigger fish to fry soon.