Two nights a week, Bartow Middle School teams are in action in boys basketball and girls volleyball, a continuation of the district-wide middle school sports program. Bartow Middle School has become involved this year and the interscholastic contests have been a big success.
The schools change sports at the end of every grading period. BMS fielded a girls basketball team during the first nine weeks.
Unfortunately, the season for boys basketball and girls volleyball is just about over as the holidays wiped out a good week of competition and the bye week is coming late. There is a limited opportunity to see the teams, who play their home games in the Union Academy gym, for this year.
During this past week, the teams enjoyed home court advantage. On Monday night, the boys took on Rochelle School of the Arts with Bartow winning the junior varsity and varsity contest.
The JV squad is coached by Tripp Wallace while Derrick Brooks Sr. is the head varsity coach. Both of these coaches also work with Coach McGriff on the high school boys basketball team. The program director is Ledarion Jones, who is a technology educator at Compass.
Coach Brooks is a volunteer for the middle school effort with plenty of volunteer coaching experience. He is a Lakeland native who recently relocated to the area from Georgia. His son, Derrick Jr., is a member of the Bartow High School varsity and son Christian is on the Bartow Middle School varsity.
“There has been a pretty good rec league in the area that helped these players get the skills at a young age,” said Brooks. “We had a lot of interest in the program when it was time for tryouts. We had to make a lot of tough choices because we couldn’t take everyone who was interested. There are a few players whose skills are more developed than others and we have a lot of up and coming players who will be making the squad in the future.”
The program relies on more than athletic skills. Competitors are required to maintain grades and behavior to be a part.
“We are looking for players with good character as well as athleticism and they need to be outstanding students. They must be willing to work hard, on the floor and in the classroom. They are leaders and role models who put on the uniform and they need to remember that,” said Brooks.
On the floor, the team relied on some obvious strengths to dominate the opponent. “We have a good balance out there and the players work hard and anticipate their positions and what the opponents are going to do next. There’s a challenge when you are coaching a couple of kids who have a lot of experience and a few that don’t. Having those experienced players can help make it easier. It’s never easy, just easier.”
On this night, as is the case on all others, everyone on the team got a chance to be on the floor.
“We’re not required to play everyone,” said Brooks. “We just like to reward those who work hard, who practice hard and play hard. We try to play everybody we can.”
Varsity squad members for 2012 are Christian Brooks, Chris Butler, Joe Chilsolm, Lionel Cumming, Jeremy Henderson, A.J. Jackson, Timothy Jordan, T.J. McKinley, Marcus Parks, Jaquez Skanes, Marquovis Stewart, Brandon Whitten, Devin Williams and Jarred Williams.
The Junior Varsity team features Chrishawn Butler, Trashon Butler, Jacob Dillon, Rashard Henry, Xavier Lopez, Cody Norman, Frantz Pierre, Jeremiah Pikney, Ellix Scurry, Kohari Taylor, Riley Thomas, Jeremiah Ussery, Ledarious Wesley and Devin Williams.
The volleyball games take place on Thursday nights. The teams are coached by Katy Maginn and Shenika Vargas.
The junior varsity roster includes Serenity Barber, Shan Donaldson, Perri Hayes, Reagan More, Kyra Moss, Taylor Owen, Kierston Robbins, Anizya Varga and, Savanah Whitley. Playing on the varsity squad are Destinee Breedon, Leena Chrispen, Kaitlyn Christie, Ashton Owen, Tania Ramos, Kaylee Simms and Bri Tollie.