Sports engagement faces struggle


Members of the varsity football team run onto the field before the game against Chanute Sept. 20. The football team and other sports teams have struggled to involve athletes in their programs. photo credit Mason Edwards

While many schools, Andale High School, for instance, have huge sports engagement, like football and track, increasing large engagement at Augusta has been a struggle and has been declining.
¨The decrease hasn’t been recent¨, said Athletic Director Josh Ybarra. ¨It has been a trend that has occurred over the past 10 to 15 years.¨
Track coach Joan Reichardt believes part of the decrease in the past couple of years of athletes going out for sports is due to COVID-19.
¨I believe COVID, 2020, took a hit,¨ Reichardt said. ¨Kids got disengaged and just have not come back to the sport, but even before, our number system has been going down. One reason is more students are getting jobs or just not doing anything.¨
Football and track coach Jason Filbeck thinks students are also choosing to do other activities.
¨There are other options for kids to get invested in like gaming or getting a job,¨ Filbeck said. ¨It is just easier to not have to put in the time and grind to play a sport and find other ways to get enjoyment out of video games or a job.¨
Andale experienced the pandemic and kids finding other activities, but their numbers are still strong. Their 2022 football season had over 100 kids try out for the sport, and their track team had almost 200.
¨I don’t think they have as many opportunities as we do,¨ Ybarra said. ¨I think it is with the history of that school. I also think a big part of it is their mindset is their kids do three sports, and it has been like that for a while.¨
Coaches see opportunities to boost engagement.
¨Having kids promote that sports is a good thing and the benefits of going out for sports,¨ Filbeck said. ¨We need to engage other students that aren’t out for sports and have the coaches and kids explain the camaraderie and that it is a good thing and will give a positive impact on their life.¨
Ybarra thinks it is going to take everyone to get the numbers back up.
¨It’s going to take kids as much as it’s going to take anybody else to buckle down and say, this is what we want to do,¨ Ybarra said. ¨To be the best, you have to put in the work and as the athletic director here that’s something we are trying to do, to get our programs to be the best.¨