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Lion pride policies making a difference

Posted: Monday, Dec 24th, 2012

Photo by Jerry Thompson Athletic council members met at the Village Green on Dec. 12: Back row (from left): Ryan Quick, Cody Simons, teacher Garrett Bridgens, Marc Fisher, Sam Richards, Scotty Hitner, Kaitlyn Erner, Ahsha Mootz, Jarett Raade. Front row (from left): Darian Hanneson, Caitlyn Townsend, Larissa Richey, Kristine Dunn, Haley Cochell, Elysha Lang, Michelle Sand, Taylor Sayles, Shane Barker and Athletic Director Dave Presley.

This fall the Cottage Grove High School athletic department has attempted to create an atmosphere on and off the field of competition where the core values of respect, integrity and excellence are manifested through the players, coaches and fans. Coaches take time out in practice to talk about these values, and more accountability is being demanded of athletes in their academics. The result of the new emphasis appears to be a very positive one, especially in the classroom.

“Every kid that came out this winter had passed their fall courses, and that hasn’t always been the case in the past,” said CGHS Athletic Director Dave Presley. “One of the athletes had two Fs and nine had one F to begin this fall, but the turn around with them is night and day. I’m not sure what’s going on here, if we changed the water supply at the high school, but everybody seems to be wanting to change. Something’s working.”

At a recent Athletes Council meeting at 7 a.m. at the Village Green, a female Lion athlete explained the turnaround this way: “For some people sports are very important, and when that can be taken away, they work harder to not let it be taken away.”

Specific new policies instituted this fall are the “water supply” that has created a different climate. Every athlete receives a grade report at three weeks, six weeks and nine weeks.

Attendance gets posted every week now on a Monday in the counseling office. The list is broken down by sport and the young men and women can check their ID number and see if they have an absence. An unexcused absence results in a week of eligibility lost. In other words, the athlete can’t play.

The first three weeks of the fall season at week three, 81 athletes had to attend “Academic Wednesday.” If the athlete is academically ineligible he has a week to get grades his turned around; if not, he has to go to the Academic Wednesday school.

By end of fall sports only 10-12 had to go to Academic Wednesday.

What has impressed Presley as well as Garrett Bridgens, who is a teacher and coach at CGHS, is the effect the changed behavior of the athletes has had on the rest of the CGHS student body.

“We have 150-200 athletes who are out for winter sports, and there’s another 550 who aren’t out, yet when the bell rings, the halls have cleared,” Presley stated. Back last year, when the bell rang it was like, ‘so?’ There used to be about 20-50 students walking around and not going to class after the bell rang. The athletes are impacting that, and it’s positively contagious.”

Bridgens shared an example of a Lion student/athlete whose life has changed.

“I asked him how school is going and he said, ‘Man, my life is so much less stressful now that I’m keeping up with my school work. I’m not getting overwhelmed or behind, I’m just keeping up.’”

For the complete article see the 12-26-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-26-2012 paper.

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