Coastal Breeze News met with Roger Raymond to update our community on what an incredible success the Charter School Sports Program has been over the past twelve years. The school successfully competed against larger schools. They did it through excellent and dedicated coaching, and the players’ determination and hard work to improve their sporting skills and team play.
(Q) Sporting Activities–how have they developed over the past twelve years?
(A) When we first started the programs we were new and Collier County private schools had no organized program for a Charter Middle school, so we started from scratch. We had no facilities other than borrowing from the City and the ‘Y’ so, in that respect, the changes have been dramatic. We now have facilities where we can practice all sports inside if we have to—we are always weather independent. We have an excellent, well-equipped gym and an outside field area which we are preparing for soccer. The field may not be suitable for a league game but we can practice for up-coming matches. We don’t have a track. However, we can use our field to run around on a firm surface that protects the kids’ ankles. It’s a pretty solid field. So the facilities have changed in a positive way.
(Q) How many staff and volunteers do you have to support the school sport program?
(A) When you start something, a positive attitude takes over so you have people that want to help you. We’re going into our thirteenth year. Help is hard to maintain that long. We certainly have people who helped from day one, who are still helping here today, but you start to take things for granted, including the people involved directly. For the sporting activities, obviously, we have our main coaches and, where possible, we try to use our own staff. When there is a game on a Friday evening or on a Saturday morning, on the following Monday the students will be taken to task for their behavior and conduct. Whereas, when a coach is not from the school, the issue lies dormant a little bit longer. Currently we have around 80% staff coaching our teams. The coaches who are not staff are all very qualified at what they do, and we screen them pretty closely.
(Q) How does the school coordinate sports running concurrently?
(A) Soccer has been changed to conform to the FHSAA. So we have soccer and basketball running in winter (November-February). This change avoids putting pressure on the kids playing soccer and trying to run cross country, doing both sports at once. Kids can practice cross-countryrunning on their own, and at their own pace–especially the kids who are dedicated.
(Q) Talking of running, isn’t that is one of the school’s success areas?
(A) The cross country has been successful from day one. I cannot really explain it. We are the same size island for every sport, whereas we seemed to have excelled every year in running!
(Q) What mileage are you looking at in a typical cross country Middle School Race?
(A) A typical Middle School race is supposed to be 3K in the U.S. (This technically measures 1.8 miles.) Our races are typically 2 miles. Our kids have been very successful: we have won 90% of the meets we have been in, most invitational. There may be 20 teams in a meet. We were successful the first year in cross country. Since then, there are more teams to compete against in this area. In its early years our cross country team competed on the east coast, simply to find teams to run against.
(Q) What about marathons? Are the kids too young?
(A) Yes. You don’t want kids running much further than the 5K distance. You have to be very careful as, at this age, growth is taking place, bones and muscles are developing, so you have to be careful in long distance. Age may not be a factor asyou get older. Seventy-year-olds are running full marathons in respectable times; that is, less than 7 minutes per mile. As they get into high school, they can run longer distances.
(Q) Name some of your successes over the years.
(A) We have had five Winged Foot nominees. This award goes to the premier scholar athlete in each Collier County public and private school. Each nominee receives a scholarship automatically. One student is chosen out of all these for the top award which is $10,000. Our kids have won five out of ten years. The first was Natasha Sciallis, then Ben Gillenwaters and Jessica Raymond. This year, Christian Tateo and Sabrina Carrender were nominated. In 2002, the Girls Cross Country team from Lely High School was runner-up in the state. Five of the top seven of that team were from the MICMS.
(Q) With all the running success, why don’t we have a running club on Marco?
(A) It’s well overdue! People have contacted me in the past and I have discussed it with other runners. It’s always difficult to find the time, but when you create something, you find the time. Great idea! I would be keen to see who is interested.
Remember kids, it’s all about team work and not one individual’s performance. The French have a wonderful phrase to cover this:
Esprit de corps: Spirit and Solidarity of the group (or team).