If I were rich enough, I would buy a bus for each middle school.
A teal blue one for Dzantik’i Heeni with a caricature of a Wolverine emblazoned on it.
A nice two-tone red one for Floyd Dryden with an Eagle screeching across the side.
A shiny white one for Juneau Charter with a mountain goat leaping over a ledge.
A flamboyant jet black one with the Aurora Borealis on it for Montessori.
And of course, Neil Young would rock the speakers.
It seems as if there are not enough buses in the Juneau School District.
Why else would we have two separate middle school races on Thursday?
Why, after the Montessori and Juneau Charter coaches have gone to the effort of organizing the race that was to host all four schools, did DZ decide to host another meet... and why did FD decide to back out of the Sandy Beach race and run with the Wolverines?
I am just asking.
Because I am told a lot of things and a lot of things just seem like I am running in circles.
Since I have been in Juneau I have relied on covering a middle school race every year at the Riverbend Elementary course (hosted by FD), at least one at the Dzantik’i Heeni course (hosted by DZ) and often a final one at Sandy Beach along the Treadwell Mines Trails (hosted by whoever can).
The Sandy Beach course makes sense for a middle school runner.
This is the course that the big boys (and girls) run on. This is where a runner will race when he decides which high school to attend.
Middle school runners like to picture themselves embossed in a silver and blue Falcons singlet or a red and black Crimson Bears jersey, running up and down the hills and over logs, dodging curious dogs and racing fans as they move through the Treadwell Mines Trails and help capture a Region V championship.
Photographers and writers, too, not always as graceful and always behind the pace, love the venue.
Parents and running fans, many slower than photographers and writers, crowd the trails and finish line and dream their children are bringing home the gold or silver or mud stains from a turn gone wrong.
Plus it is historic.
I mean, a freaking mine was there once.
And it is by the sea. Anything by the sea is romantic. Cross-country is a romantic sport. You have to love to run. We are born to run.
Watch a tiny infant take his first steps. Out of control? Nope, looking to pick up speed.
So here we are again, that point of my story where I scratch my head.
It seems there was a big miscommunication.
The Montessori and Juneau Charter schools were asked to host the final meet at Sandy Beach by DZ and FD coaches at the beginning of September.
Preparations were made. The course was marked off, volunteers were found and an after-race celebration catered. Ribbons were confirmed from a local running group. Brass bands were organized. A running friend of mine even changed a flight to be a helper.
Now originally, DZ was just going to host one meet. Yet at the ending of that meet, as the final runners crossed the line, a DZ official proclaimed they would be hosting the season-ending race.
So now we have two.
The confusion was that last spring DZ only wanted to schedule two meets instead of three. FD wanted to keep three.
Recently a FD school official asked a DZ school official if the meet were switched to DZ would the Wolverines attend?
Yes, they would. Except Montessori and Juneau Charter (public schools under the DZ umbrella) were accidentally left out of the communication. When DZ and FD coaches were told, well, an unrocked boat gathers no moss (or something like that). It also involved a bus being only available to take the runners there before school was let out and the athletes would have to sit around too long in the harsh October weather at Sandy Beach.
So let us back up.
Last year DZ (teachers, coaches, principal) made a plan to cut all assistant coaches. They then did not want to overburden head coaches so they cut one meet/game in cross-country, track, soccer and wrestling.
Next the B and C games for basketball and volleyball went. Those sports would keep one head coach and one intramural coach and only the A team would travel to FD. The other kids would stay at DZ and interact in some intramural activity.
DZ planed to use the $7,500 allotted buses and refs to cover cuts with coaching. Thus when the two school principals met to set this year’s schedule last spring they differed on how to deal with the $15,000 budget cut.
DZ wanted a plan that would work with $15,000 less, FD wanted to offer everything like it always had been by using volunteers. The FD plan, however, would break a Juneau Education Association contract. The DZ intramural plan was flawed in that the FD gym is much smaller, what would those youth be doing?
I have been told that the two schools have slightly different philosophies, slightly different student participation and slightly different staff who are coaches. This resulted in two different plans, neither of which are good.
I realize both schools, coaches and administrators want to be able to offer as much as possible for our students.
Hard to do with half a budget.
But is it really that hard to get all four principals, all four coaches, and all four middle school cross-country teams at Sandy Beach?
I know... it sounds like I am beating a dead horse.
Which is sad.
If I were rich enough to afford horses I could haul all the DZ and FD runners to Sandy Beach on Thursday.