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New athletic facilities aren't enough to bring success

I was reading the article in Tuesday's Daily Sun News detailing Sunnyside High School Athletic Director Bill Daley's presentation to Rotarians about the school district's plans for new athletic facilities. I have long supported the idea that the district needs quality facilities that the community can be proud of.

The press box at the high school football field is older than the actual high school. New athletic facilities will create a pride in the community that both the residents and the students can be proud of. We are one of the larger schools in the Mid-Valley League, but our athletic facilities (with the exception of the track) don't come close to the quality of other facilities in the Valley.

Contrary to the beliefs of some, even certain school board members, athletics and other school activities, including band and drama, play an instrumental part in the education of our children. It is through these activities that young men and women learn confidence, how to carry themselves and the importance of winning and losing.

But the problem in our community is that for the most part we don't take a vested interest in our young student athletes as a whole until they reach high school. Who with the exception of parents pays much attention to the athletic and extracurricular activities at the middle school? The success of our middle school students in sports, in particular, is something that is just not emphasized enough. This is where student athletes can learn and begin to understand the importance of hard work and gaining an understanding of winning and losing.

While new athletic facilities are definitely an answer to improving the condition of our athletic programs, more needs to be done. We, like in the old days (1930s-1970s) need to take an interest in the athletic and extracurricular programs our youngsters are doing. We need to promote the successes. We need to take an interest in working with the different programs that nurture our young at an early age and not just wait until students get to high school.

In addition to the facilities, I would suggest investing some money in boosting the salaries of our coaches, so they are being paid more than $1.25 an hour. We all know coaching isn't designed to pay anything, but these program heads need to have some additional incentives for building these programs in Sunnyside into the powerhouses they used to be. If you look at the successful athletic programs in other communities,one will notice the residents of those towns take a serious and productive interest in the youth of the future.

Remember, it is hard to learn the importance of winning and losing when you don't even know what the game is.

/s/ Michael Kantman, Sunnyside

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