The Boston Scholar Athletes Program recently released eligibility rates for its varsity scholar-athletes during the fall sports season.
The nonprofit organization designed to support Boston public school athletics reported that 97 percent of all scholar athletes from exam schools (Boston Latin, Latin Academy and the John D. O’Bryant School) remained eligible during the fall season while 84 percent of their counterparts from non-exam schools were eligible.
Three years ago, the BSA established learning centers for athletes at each of Boston’s 19 public high schools called Zones. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Suffolk Construction CEO and chairman John Fish collaborated to create the BSA after The Boston Globe ran a seven-part series in 2009 on the sad state of the district's athletic program called "Failing our Athletes."
Each Zone also has its own Zone facilitator that works the scholar athletes and other Zone members to help them academically. The district-wide eligibility standard for athletes is a 1.67 GPA (a C-minus average) but some schools hold their athletes to higher standards.
BSA Academic Associate Colin Campbell noted that eligibility rates were down slightly this fall because they made a concerted effort to target student athletes that have struggled to maintain eligibility in the past. That was coupled with an overall 13.4 percent increase in athletic participation this fall compared to fall 2011.
“Inherently when you do that you may have more students lose eligibility during the season,” Campbell said during a telephone interview on Friday afternoon. “We really worked with them to get the in the Zone, we worked with the coaches and the staff … those are the students that need the most support in order to stay eligible and be a part of that team.
“That increase in Zone members, we’re happy with it because shows our program is really catching on and it shows we are able to reach more of the student athletes from the academic side.”
Campbell also noted that the numbers are not final because some "incompletes" will be resolved this term.
Nevertheless, one area of improvement was eligibility among football players at exam schools, which increased from 85 percent to 98 percent this fall.
“That was something we were very happy about, something we were very happy about four our facilitators at those schools,” Campbell said.
The real stars of the report were female athletes as 99 percent of all exam school female soccer players, 93 percent of exam school cheerleaders and 92 percent of exam school volleyball players remained eligible this fall.
At non-exam schools girls had a 91 percent eligibility rate in both soccer and volleyball.
Girls also maintained high academic standards despite seeing a 14.1 percent jump in soccer participation from last fall and a 16.2 percent jump in girls volleyball participation.
The lowest eligibility rate (75 percent), however, was among cheerleaders at non-exam schools, who with a 75 percent eligibility rate fared slightly worse than football players at non-exam schools (78 percent).
“We have to continue to target those girls and make sure we get to them in the preseason and into the Zone,” BSA Executive Director Rebekah Splaine Salwasser said during a telephone interview. “Fall is always tough because you come right in [from summer break] and start a sport and it’s a cumulative of grades [that determines eligibility.]
“We have to do a better job this winter and spring making sure their cumulative GPA keeps them eligible for the fall.”
The BSA also saw an increase in participation in its preseason clinics with a total of 1,653 athletes taking part in those clinics. The BSA has also made a concerted effort to make sure that both girls and boys sports have an equal number of clinics and combines.
"Every athlete in the city, and coach, has had an opportunity to participate in a sports specific clinic as well as our general summer fitness clinic," Campbell said.
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