Swim team separation

Highland has many sports teams and well performing clubs and one of these is the highland swim team. They are a special group of people and one of the few teams that are joined by SPA (Saint Paul Academy) to create the Sparks swim team.

Recently, Dr. Tucker announced wishes to dissolve the relationship between Highland and SPA. Many athletes were displeased when hearing this and created a petition to collect signatures to keep their team together.

The reasons Dr. Tucker had to separate the teams was discussed with the swim team parents, and athletes, in a meeting that was held on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 in the Highland Park Senior High School auditorium.

Dr. Tucker prepared a document that explains his reasoning, and I have included a copy of it below. (Nothing has been edited these are all Dr. Tucker’s words)

SPARKS Swim/Dive Team students and parents:

Highland Park Senior High School is moving to dissolve the cooperative partnership for the Swimming/Dive program with SPA for next school year.

While we respect the partnership with SPA and recognize that students from both schools have formed important bonds over the years, there are a number of logistical reasons for dissolving the sharing of the two programs.

These reasons include but are not limited to the following:

  1.  Both schools have enough students to host their own teams.
  2. The current size of the team has resulted in many challenges, including having to turn away Highland Middle and Highland Senior students.
  3. The size of the team warrants multiple coaches, which is a financial problem to sustain.
  4. Continual turnover in coaching as a result of managing the two combined programs which has resulted in a lack of consistency.
  5. The logistical challenges in coordinating a team between two schools as well as the size of the team is very challenging and a deterrent for most prospective coaches.
  6. Saint Paul Public Schools has a practice of generally only having cooperative athletic partnerships with schools within the same district (there are a few necessary exceptions).
  7. The purpose of cooperative athletic partnerships is to be short term until both schools can build their programs. This goal has been accomplished.

    Please note that some have felt that this change was our athletic director’s decision. It is important to realize that as principal it was my decision to move forward with this change and as principal the responsibility rests on my shoulders.

    If you are interested in hearing more about this issue and would like share you thoughts on this matter there will be a meeting in the Highland Park Senior High School auditorium on Wednesday, December 12 at 5:30pm.

    Dr. Winston H. Tucker
    Principal

Though Dr. Tucker’s reasons are valid, the swim team had some reasons of their own. The following is from a petition created by SPARKS team members.

It has come our attention that the decision has been made to separate the Sparks and Trojans swim teams into two separate teams. For years, this co-op has flourished between Highland Park and SPA, both in and out of the pool. When we, the captains of both teams, were informed of this change, ‘cultural differences’ and limited pool space were cited as reasons for the split. These cultural differences are not a reason to divide the team—they are a key factor of what makes this team so special. The relationships and bonds formed between swimmers from both schools would never have been possible without the co-op. When it comes to the issue of pool space, we found a solution to the limited space during this past season, and believe that if the issue of space were to continue to be a problem, there are more viable solutions than to just separate the teams completely. This is not like the past where the teams were only separated while competing in conference meets (but could still compete in non-conference invites, dual meets, sections, and state together). The Athletic Department wants to separate us completely. We, the captains of both teams, and our fellow teammates believe that this is not in the best interest of either the Trojans or the Sparks in any way. While swimming together competitively the boys were able to come in 5th place in their 6AA sections and the girls were able to come in 7th place in their 6AA sections. If the teams were separated, like our schools intend to do, the boys team would have come in 7th place at their sections and the girls would have come in 8th place. The boys last year were able to get a new school record for their 400 free relay with two of those swimmers being from SPA and the girls were very close to breaking the 200 free relay record of which one person was from SPA. Additionally, a swimmer from SPA for the girls team broke a record that had stood for over 20 years in the 100 fly this past season. As mentioned previously, the teams as a co-op have been able to accomplish great things that they would not have and will not be able to achieve as two separate teams. We hope to have your support and for you to sign this petition in order to help us to keep our teams together.

If this article persuaded you believe that the swim team deserves to stay together, and to continue to develop the close bond they all cherish and want to continue, please click this link and help them by signing the petition: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/278/424/275/keep-our-teams-together/

 

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