Robert Morgan: Athletic endeavors taking priority over academics?
Mr. Jeff Dellis is a great man. He is a tremendous teach, role model for the students, basketball coach, track coach, debate coach, and now athletic director for Nevada Union High School.
Mr. Dellis is attempting to make Nevada Union more competitive by changing from the challenging Sierra Foothill League by reducing the number of NU students in making the Ghidotti Early College High School students ineligible to participate by the fall of 2018.
It is ironic that the previous athletic director allowed students of Ghidotti in 2009 to participate for Nevada Union athletics in order to remain in the Sierra Foothill League. Nevada Joint Union High School District’s Ghidotti High School is a hybrid high school in which students attend both high school and college classes on Sierra College’s campus. Mr. Dellis and his coaching staff are encouraging students to bypass the opportunity to go to Ghidotti, which is currently ranked second in the state among all high schools according to the California Academic Performance Index.
Mr. Dellis is essentially placing athletic endeavors over academic excellence. I believe this is the wrong message to send to our student athletes of our high school district. I believe athletics are an important supplement to education, rather than a priority over education.
My family was fortunate to have two sons attend and graduate from Ghidotti. They were able to participate in multiple sports for Nevada Union. They both made academic achievements at Sierra College including one graduating with an associate’s of arts degree prior to graduating high school and the other graduating college with a bachelor’s of science at the age of 20.
Both of our sons played intercollegiate sports with one completing a ROTC Naval commission as an officer and the other participating in a collegiate final four as a coach’s award winner. We are proud of being part of the Ghidotti family and would love to see the opportunity for the student athletes to continue to achieve great things both academically and athletically.
The current student body of Ghidotti has more than 20 percent participation in sports and the last class had 57 percent receive a college degree prior to a high school diploma. It is a tremendous program which gives Nevada County’s youth a head start compared to the average high school graduate.
I would love to see the number of students allowed to expand to accept each and every individual who applies to attend. One theory to maximize the number of Ghidotti students would be to turn it into a junior and senior school, which would potentially double the amount of students to graduate with a college degree prior to graduating high school and replace the antiquated Advanced Placement (AP) class model.
Removing Ghidotti has a financial and physical facility impact to Nevada Union. It is more than $1,000 cheaper for a student to attend Ghidotti per year. The fund differential should be placed in the Ghidotti general fund rather than the district coffers. Nevada Union should also no longer have use of the facilities at Ghidotti and Sierra College, including fields and running trails used for multiple sports. Both of these consequences would place a burden on already stretched fiscal and physical resources for the district and athletic department. Mr. Dellis needs to realize that there exists a symbiotic relationship between the two programs.
I believe rather than changing the league to achieve in athletics, it is time to change the culture of the athletic department. Mr. Dellis is capable of invigorating the program. Mr. Dellis was able to increase the number of participants on the track and field team one year by focusing his energy. Coach Dellis was also capable of navigating the Sierra Foothill League to host a playoff game in basketball in 2016. Culture shifting allows Stanford University to compete and dominate in the Pacific 12 Conference with little more than 7,000 undergraduates vs. Arizona State with 40,000 undergraduate students.
I look forward to Mr. Dellis’ leadership and evolution of the Nevada Union Athletic Department. I believe it should be inclusive to the students of Ghidotti, as it has since 2009.
Ghidotti and all high school students of the district should be given an opportunity to develop their minds and bodies. A student athlete should not have to choose at the age of 14 whether to purse an academic- or athletic-based education. Athletics provide an incredible opportunity for physical development. It is amazing what physical activities can achieve in terms of neurological improvement for cognitive and emotional development of the student athlete.
The goal for the district should be to develop renaissance students capable of great things: mentally, emotionally and physically.
Robert Morgan lives in Grass Valley.
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