GROWING PAINS

Chimacum and PT athletic directors list successes, challenges of sports merger

Posted 1/21/22

In the past year, Chimacum and Port Townsend school districts have been collaborating together on multiple fronts.

Whether working together to hire individual superintendents over the summer, or …

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GROWING PAINS

Chimacum and PT athletic directors list successes, challenges of sports merger

Posted

In the past year, Chimacum and Port Townsend school districts have been collaborating together on multiple fronts.

Whether working together to hire individual superintendents over the summer, or the merging of each respective high school’s athletic programs into one, many of the districts’ goals of cooperation have come to fruition.

Both school districts’ boards unanimously approved resolutions this month to develop a “memorandum of understanding” between each other, and further develop working relationships in the long term.

Perhaps the crowning achievement of the collaboration between Chimacum and Port Townsend districts has been the formation of the East Jefferson Rivals. The singular athletic program consists of athletes from Port Townsend and Chimacum high schools competing under one banner, and is more than halfway through its first official year as a combined program.

While many EJ teams have found ample success on the field this academic year, the new athletic program has dealt with growing pains associated with transportation, athletic director responsibilities, coordination between both schools, and other issues.

The two high school athletic directors, Philip Mackey-Moseley of Port Townsend High and Carrie Beebe of Chimacum High, met with Port Townsend School District administrators earlier this month to discuss the sports merger complications and potential solutions.

Perhaps the largest complication for the athletic program is hashing out transportation schedules to get students from their school to practices, games, and such.

“Transportation would have been an issue whether we were East Jefferson or whether we were Redhawks and Cowboys, because the number of buses would still be the same,” Mackey-Moseley said.

Two different high schools — that are a 20 minute drive apart from each other — attempting to coordinate and assign buses for athletic trips has caused scheduling issues for all teams involved, with school bus drivers stretched thin. The lack of transportation has forced multiple Rivals teams to delay or cancel games.

Alice Fraser, head coach of the Rivals cross country team, discussed transportation problems at the Jan. 6 Port Townsend School Board meeting, saying: “This year I’ve had to drive my cross country team everywhere in vans.”

The transportation difficulties affected the Rivals football team, as well, albeit to a smaller degree.

“At times there were some issues with getting student athletes to Port Townsend from Chimacum. This was due to the lack of bus drivers,” football head coach Tony Haddenham said. 

“We made it work with the student athletes that could drive giving rides to those who couldn’t drive themselves,” he said.

Managing two separate athletic programs has highlighted problems with communication and coordination between Chimacum and Port Townsend athletic directors and coaches.

“The problem is we’ve got two districts, two schools, two athletic directors, two finance directors, two sets of final forms, and so on,” Mackey-Moseley said of the situation.

He suggested a switch to one athletic director could “take away all the duplicity and replace it with a single entity.”

Port Townsend District Superintendent Linda Rosenbury agreed with the potential switch to one athletic director.

“It would streamline communication and be more efficient, as well,” Rosenbury said.

Another difficulty with the merger has been the workload managed by Beebe and Mackey-Moseley, who are both athletic directors and deans of students at the same time.

“Right now, my job is athletic director and dean of students. I will raise my hand and tell you 100 percent honestly I have not been able to do either properly,” Mackey-Moseley said. “I don’t physically have the time to be a full-time dean of students at the high school with everything that’s gone on with COVID and the return to school, and be an athletic director.”

Regardless of the first-year challenges, some coaches are happy with the merger, considering the added benefits of a more competitive team and shared resources among both schools.

“I am very optimistic about the combine. I believe the kinks will be ironed out and everyone will be on the same page within the next couple of months,” Haddenham said. 

“The football team was able to benefit from pooling resources from both schools to give our student athletes the best chance of being successful. It showed with this year’s football team,” he said.

With any new merger comes new challenges, but the athletic directors reiterated their commitment to continue the combination and build upon it through new features like official Rivals uniforms to legitimize the program.

“When we jumped into it last June, we knew that there were a lot of things to figure out,” Beebe said. “We’re staying positive; we’re both doing the best we can.”

“Overall, in terms of the community support, and in terms of how it felt for the players and the sport, I think it was a good decision moving forward to combine the two schools,” Mackey-Moseley said. “In terms of it being a success, I think genuinely we can say, for the kids, it is a success.”

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