D.A. Ferguson Middle School and W.R. Myers High School have announced they will be merging the Middle School and Grade 9 volleyball and basketball programs.
Through the merge, the schools will endeavour to accomplish the following goals: To increase and maintain student athletic participation across all grade levels; to continue participation in the Horizon School Division Athletic League with teams competing at the appropriate and competitive age/grade levels; to share resources and create stronger teams that are more competitive at each of the designated tiers; to build an athletic program that feeds skilled and committed players into the W.R. Myers High School athletic program; and, to continue to build and foster school pride in both the D.A. Ferguson and W.R. Myers athletic programs.
These changes will be put into place beginning with the 2015-2016 basketball season and will then be introduced in the fall of 2016 into the volleyball program.
The athletic directors of both schools gave the rationale that over the past number of years, D.A. Ferguson Middle School and W.R. Myers High School have struggled to create committed, competitive teams. It has been a consistent concern, and appears to be more of a trend than an anomaly.
D.A. Ferguson is the only middle school in the Horizon School Division Athletic League. That means D.A. Ferguson competes against junior high schools that have a population of Grade 9s on their team, making for both league and playoffs difficult for D.A. to be competitive.
“As a smaller middle school, D.A. Ferguson is in an unusual place as far as where they fit in southern Alberta athletics,” said Mandy Simmons, athletic director for D.A. Ferguson Middle School. “We do not have the numbers that the larger middle schools have when it comes to making up teams, and because we compete at the 1J (Grade 6-8) level, this places us in zones with stronger, more competitive middle schools. It is the rare team that is able to be competitive in tournament and zone competition with these teams.”
The struggles for W.R. Myers High School has been it has found it difficult to field a full team when they are only able to select from Grade 9 players.
“We often find ourselves in the position of convincing students who don’t really want to play, have other commitments, or haven’t played in a long time, simply to have enough players to field a team,” said Greg Bowes, athletic director for W.R. Myers High School. “It is frustrating for those athletes who are more committed and have a strong desire to play.”