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Middle School Athletics: Talmadge Takes Reins From Cys

INDEPENDENCE — The end of the 2013-14 school year marked a transition at Talmdage Middle School that few noticed.    Yet, for Talmadge Athletic Director Dale Cutsforth, it marked an important day in the school’s history when it officially took charge of the school’s sports programs from Central Youth Sports (CYS).    In 2008, Talmadge faced the possibility of a school year without sports because of funding — or the lack of it. And that was a future, Cutsforth said, the school didn’t want to face.    “Back in 2003, we had a year where we didn’t have sports,” Cutsforth said. “It was a disjointed year. The school was disjointed and there were very limited opportunities for kids to do other things. The pride in our school wasn’t as strong and the school climate wasn’t as healthy as we would have liked.”    Without offering athletics, Cutsforth said that school morale was lower. The school endured a difficult year without the ability to offer students sports to participate in.    “You could tell that void was missing,” Cutsforth said. “We knew that we, as a school, wouldn’t ever go back to that again.”    CYS stepped in and helped to fund and run the school’s sports from 2008 to 2014, when funding to the school’s athletic programs were threatened.    CYS helped recruit volunteer coaches to help lead the various programs and ensured teams had equipment to use during their respective seasons.    “They (CYS) raised a lot of funds,” Cutsforth said. “Stacy Olson spearheaded a lot of that and took the lead. They raised a ton of money, and organized and maintained sports at Talmadge. I don’t know what we would have done without having that outlet.”    Offering athletics as an extra-curricular activity also helped give students additional motivation to perform well in school and keep their grades up.     “It was a seamless transition. A lot of folks didn’t know CYS was running it and they were great about that. We wanted to have that school feel to it and they made sure that still existed,” Cutsforth said.    Cutsforth said Talmadge will maintain all existing athletic teams for the 2014-15 school year, including cross-country, which recently hired Brad Simkins as its head coach.    Families won’t notice any difference the way the programs are run. But Cutsforth is happy to see things return to normal.    “It’s an exciting time,” Cutsforth said. “It’ll be nice having teachers/coaches in our building walking the halls with the kids. My job will be a little easier in terms of communication. CYS did a fantastic job, but we’re excited to reach this point.”    As Talmadge officially takes the reins of its athletic teams once again, Cutsforth said the school owes a debt of gratitude to CYS.    “It really was nearly seamless,” Cutsforth said. “We couldn’t have done it without them. But we’re glad to be able to run things again.”

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