BY HCISD STAFF
Harlingen CISD began its free softball and baseball programs at the middle school level this school year.
The Texas Afterschool Centers on Education program, or ACE, launched the athletic program after a survey of Harlingen CISD students revealed a great interest in softball and baseball among middle schoolers.
As part of HCISD’s commitment to providing choices and opportunities for students to excel in their passions, the district’s ACE program implemented the softball and baseball program. The softball and baseball athletes practiced after school during the 2018-19 school year and participated in games and tournaments.
During the 2018-19 school year, 6th graders joined the new softball and baseball program offered at all five middle schools. HCISD hopes UIL sanctions baseball and softball for 7th and 8th grade students. If UIL gives HCISD the green light to add the two sports at the middle school level, it will be among one of the first school districts to do so in the Rio Grande Valley.
“It’s another avenue for our students to participate in sports and our successful afterschool program,” said ACE Director Fred Cavazos. “It’s also a gateway for 6th graders to eventually join athletics.
School districts in Texas do not offer UIL sanctioned athletics at the 6th grade level, but ACE’s softball and baseball program are giving middle schoolers a head start
“The whole reason for our middle school baseball and softball program is to develop young athletes skills at an early age,” Cavazos said. “Starting the program here at HCISD might encourage other school districts to do so as well.”
This school year, more than 175 students participated in ACE’s softball and baseball program
The U.S. Department of Education provided HCISD with a $1.5 million grant to fund enrichment programs for students after school hours. The district utilized a portion of the 21st century learning grant to implement sports programs after school such as baseball and softball.
The 6th graders utilized the newly remolded fields at Cano Freshman Academy for their games.
“It helps our students physically, emotionally, and socially, and that’s something they really enjoy,” Cavazos said.
Students interested in baseball or softball at the middle school level may contact their ACE site coordinator at any of the five middle schools to join. All students are allowed to participate in the program, and HCISD provides all necessary equipment such as bats, balls, and gloves.