The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Wood
The Times 

Prescott Pride On the Rise

Previously struggling sports program is seeing success


Courtesy Photo

The Prescott Tigers volleyball team celebrates a good play.

PRESCOTT – Prescott High School Athletic Director Susan Deruwe smiled as she described the chants and cheers, in support of the Prescott Tigers, that had filled the school halls earlier in the day. Such enthusiasm is the norm for many high schools, but it has been years since Prescott has experienced that type of school spirit, according to school administrators.

Effective with the 2015-16 school year, Prescott withdrew from a longstanding Waitsburg-Prescott sports combine in an attempt to combat continually dwindling sports participation numbers. Two years in, it appears that going solo has been a success.

Numbers are up in sports at all levels. Students are turning out who have never played before. And elementary students are looking forward to middle and high school after seeing the successes of the older students, Deruwe said. She was quick to credit the success to the support of the administration and school board.

"The board helped analyze our programs to try and figure out how to get kids to turn out. We continued to see the number of kids that were participating decline and tried to figure out how to stop that trend," District Superintendent Brett Cox said.

School board member Sara Fletcher provides the board with sports updates and also drives bus for the district. She said the fall activity bus that takes students home to Vista Hermosa after practices was full to capacity, at least double what it used to be.

"Identity is up for the community and the school. School spirit is up all around, the energy level in the building is up and there's more positive energy," Fletcher said.

Cox said the school has always hadstrong numbers in soccer, where they placed third in state this year. Other sports participation numbers have seen a striking increase since leaving the combine, however.

Deruwe said 19 high school girls turned out for volleyball this year and they were able to field both varsity and JV teams. In prior years they had three to four players turn out. Another 18 girls turned out for junior high volleyball, when only two to three had played in previous years.

In winter sports, Deruwe said the girls' high school basketball team has 15 players, and ten girls are playing at the junior high level. Numbers are similar for the boys' basketball team, which includes players from Jubilee Leadership Academy.

The boys' basketball program has seen success this year and is currently in the district playoffs.

Cox said soccer is played earlier in the day when many parents can't attend games, but that families attend the evening basketball games, bringing younger siblings who are inspired by the older players and enjoy the excitement of the gym and the band.

"It's fun because the elementary students are watching the success of the older kids and I've had them asking me questions on the bus about going to State and how that works. They're seeing that it's a possibility for them to go to state in every sport and it's something they're looking forward to," Fletcher said.

Success on the court has also translated to success in the classroom.

"The more kids we have in athletics, the more kids are held accountable academically. It gives us some leverage in the classroom that we didn't have before. That's nice. I think every sophomore but one made honor roll. There are a lot of benefits," Cox said.

Cox said it's not just the athletes who benefit. He estimates that at least half of the student body is involved in some way if managers, scorekeepers, cheerleaders, band members, and concession workers are included.

"It's getting hard to find kids to man the concession stand because we have so many kids turning out to play. It's a good problem to have," Cox said.

This spring, Prescott will offer JV baseball and fastpitch softball, with eight graders playing up. They hope to build a strong high school program down the road.

Cox said he and Josh Gonzalez coached a 4th/5th grade Little League team last year, but that was the first Prescott had seen in many years. "Our kids just haven't had much opportunity to play much baseball," he said.

Courtesy Photo

An enthusiastic crowd cheers at a recent district basketball playoff game.

Cox, Fletcher, and Deruwe all spoke highly of the coaches who they say have done a great job building the programs. Head coach Bob Young was assisted by Melissa Linklater for volleyball, and Mark Grimm and assistant Jesus Cruz coached soccer. Grim also coaches girls' basketball, assisted by Mike Guisti. The boys' basketball team is coached by Allyn Friffin, assisted by Josh Wisner.

This spring, veteran Dustin Snediger will coach baseball, assisted by Brett Mayberry. Young and Linklater will team up again to coach softball.

"We have some great coaches who have worked very hard to bring back Tiger athletics and build up teams," Deruwe said.

"It's just been fun. We redid our logo. We've got people showing their Prescott pride. It's fun to get involved and be a part of something," Cox said.


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