Outstander program gives sixth graders athletic opportunity
Mar. 11—HUNTSVILLE — Athletics provides something that not only keeps young and old active but leads to building up people to have skills that translate to adulthood and further in life.
Athletics provides individual accountability and teamwork skills because while you are one person, you are a piece to the complete puzzle and results at the end.
However, that is not provided to sixth graders as schools do not start sports until you reach seventh grade. Huntsville Intermediate's Behavior Interventionist, Micheal Vossler, decided to change that three years ago.
Vossler started the Outstander Sports club at Huntsville Intermediate School (HIS) and it is open to boys and girls in sixth grade to give them the athletic experience before they reach Mance Park Middle School.
"The program is basically using sports to teach the basics that we all think athletics teaches, but we don't have them at the sixth-grade level," Vossler said. "We teach leadership, accountability, hard work and all those things that when you get to junior high, and high school but we don't have that at this level and I said 'how fun would that be.' We are all volunteers and a lot of ex-athletes from Huntsville. It's a great opportunity to work with the kids."
Outstanders Sports also gives these kids the ability to learn leadership. In all sports, teams need everybody to step up and be leaders, whether that is on the playing field, vocal, or just a presence that everybody wants to follow.
This program gives the opportunity to HIS students to show them leadership abilities before getting to seventh grade.
"It's teaching what I call leadership skills," Vossler said. "We teach them about working hard, being on time and things I think athletics does for you. It did for a lot of people and me. It's a lot of fun and it's a popular club. The kids want to play sports and want that opportunity."
This club is built solely off the volunteering of teachers that are looking to help guide the kids to more than just classroom success.
Sixth-grade counselor Guillermo Jimenez had has the same plans as Vossler for this program.
"I wanted to do something extra for the kiddos," Jimenez said. "I wanted to help them in a different type of means. This is just my way of giving back because they don't get to see me in this type of role."
But Jimenez isn't the only teacher that helps this program. The Outstander program had an additional nine teachers help with this program as they need coaches and additional help running drills.
That support includes Kelsey O'Rear, Fred Salazar, Keith Baker, Rashad Richardson, Nate Dickey, Danny Horton, Stacey Smith, Matt Gaudern, Danielle Ashley, Chantal Bettsand, Vossler and Jimenez.
Outstander Sports was created three years ago and started with a football program, a replica of what the other schools are playing that season.
This club plays both football and basketball and is tabbed as one of the most popular clubs at HIS because of that, they allow 30 kids in the program and for basketball they had four teams play two games.
And because of the popularity, they have a rotation so that kids are getting the chance to be in it for one semester.
Each session, they have eight practices before putting together the games to cap off the season.
"It shows the kids are excited but also I think the community was excited," Vossler said. "We had a good turn out and we saw lots of families and lots of teachers come out to support the kids."
"It's great to see everything come together in a game," Jimenez said. "It's very rewarding"
It is more than that though, it is about getting the kids together, teaching them how to play sports and creating bonds with these sixth graders.
The club gives these kids the chance to catch some time with coaches from the high school levels and get the chance to see what things will be like in the future.
"I think working how to work on a team," Vossler said. "Especially, a Huntsville Hornets team. It's a chance for you to meet the guys you are going to be playing for and get their expectations. It gives them a little taste of what's to come next year."
The Outstander Sports Club wrapped up the basketball season on Wednesday night at Mance Park Middle School where they saw two games get played simultaneously.
This event capped off the season but now the members can say they have played in the gym before they even get to that level, but most importantly, it provides a fun way to compete in the school system.
"Sports is fun and kids love to compete," Vossler said. "They get to come to the big school where they will be next year."