KING WILLIAM — Hamilton-Holmes Middle School is expanding its intramural sports after-school program to include fitness training and aerobic activities beginning this school year.
Hamilton-Holmes Principal Beverly Young said the new activity is meant to cater to students who want to do more cardio or dance activities.
Hamilton-Holmes also offers seven-week programs in basketball, volleyball and flag football during various months of the school year. Each sport accepts up to 30 student applicants on a first-come, first-served basis, though Young said they might accept more if the demand is great enough. Students also have an opportunity to complete homework assignments during the end of the session.
Young said the students' response to the program, which launched in February, has been very positive.
"Some students signed up for all three sports last year," Young said. "Basketball is probably the most popular sport (we offer), but the others were right up there with close to 30 students."
King William County Superintendent Mark Jones said the intramural sports program is a good opportunity for students to get involved at school.
"The program gives students an opportunity to develop a relationship with staff as well as other students," Jones said. "It gives students an opportunity to participate in athletics where they otherwise might not (have an opportunity)."
In addition to adding another sport, Young said the intramural sports program will begin earlier — this year in October — and last longer, from 3-6 p.m.
Young said the program has been successful in part because Hamilton-Holmes currently does not offer a competitive sports program to its students and only eighth-graders are allowed to try out for King William High School JV squads.
"I would love to see competitive sports (at Hamilton-Holmes)," Young said. "The school board did look into competitive sports, however we'd have to do a great deal of traveling."
Young explained that many counties Hamilton-Holmes could potentially play, such as Henrico and Hanover counties, have already selected teams they are going to play, meaning Hamilton-Holmes would be forced to travel to schools farther away.
Young added that for the county to purchase equipment, such as football pads and other various uniforms, would not be possible when paired with the expense of traveling.
"When the school board looked into it, I believe the estimate was about $50,000," Young said of the cost of adding competitive sports.
The total annual budget for Hamilton-Holmes intramural sports program is $9,540, and covers teacher salaries — of which there are two per sport — as well as snacks and equipment.
"Finances is a question we all have to consider," said Jones. "But you also have to weigh the costs against the benefits of offering (competitive sports). Competitive sports benefit students and also the school district."
Though Hamilton-Holmes and the King William County School Board have no immediate plans to offer competitive sports to middle-schoolers, Young said she believes as King William continues to grow, so too might the demand.
Hamilton-Holmes' intramural sports program begins with basketball Oct. 6 and is free to all participants.
McMillan can be reached by phone at 804-885-0042.