High School Insider: The Register’s John Naughton takes a look at sports across the state.
Softball players at Grandview Park Baptist in Des Moines are taking their final swings this summer.
It’s the final athletic chapter for the Defenders. The school is dissolving and most of the students will enroll at a new school, Grand View Christian, which opens Aug. 15.
Current enrollment for the existing school is about 250; an estimated 237 students have signed up for classes at Christian, which will be located in a former elementary school building in the Saydel district.
“I looked forward to graduating at Grandview Park, but it’s like the same people at a different school,” said freshman Sierra Tarbell, a four-sport athlete.
Grandview Park had students from about 70 churches. It was housed at a Baptist church on the city’s east side. Concerns with the school’s future direction and declining enrollment created a transition to Grand View Christian.
Among the coaches making the leap is Matt Thompson, who led the volleyball team to a Class 1-A state championship in 2002.
“It’s bittersweet to have this happen,” said Thompson, who will share activity director duties with Clay Tarbell at Christian. “It’s something we’re going to miss, but we’re excited about the potential that’s there.”
The new athletic program has been sanctioned by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the boys’ Iowa High School Athletic Association. The teams will continue to compete in the Bluegrass Conference. Home basketball games will be played at the Faith Baptist Bible College gym in Ankeny. The school is looking for home venues for football and volleyball, Thompson said.
The school opened in 1972, serving students in grades K-12.
Grandview Park offered opportunities for athletes to play multiple sports with teammates from throughout the metro area.
“You build really good friendships,” said junior softball player Dani DeGraff, a three-sport athlete.
Alyssa Passick, a 2007 Grandview Park Baptist graduate, is one of the assistant coaches on the softball team for its final season, which ends in July.
“At first I was really sad because my school won’t exist,” Passick said, “but I’m excited to see what’s going to happen.”
Two members of the final team, Brittney Fazzio and Michaela Crider, attend Ankeny Christian and play in a sharing agreement.
Among the things that will be left behind are “wall of fame” photographs of past athletes.
“When I was in kindergarten, I would look up at the wall and was wanting to be up there someday,” Tarbell said.
Instead, she’ll be starting a new tradition.
“One of my biggest dreams in the world would have to be giving my dad CWS tickets to come watch me play on Father’s Day. #CanOnlyDream”
— Waukee baseball player Matt Hoeg on June 15. With a season performance that includes eight home runs, 29 RBIs and a .393 batting average, perhaps Hoeg can provide his family with a trip to watch him play at the state tournament.
“Every time I finish a show on Netflix I think a little part of me dies inside… #RIPFridayNightLights”
— Nevada soccer player Morgan Neuendorf on June 26. She just completed her soccer season, helping her team to a Class 1-A state runner-up finish. Good time to relax and catch up on TV time.
“When I’m rich I’m gonna buy all the Lego sets I can’t afford now.”
— Chad Eichler, Cedar Rapids Xavier soccer player, June 3.
HIGHLIGHT REEL Iowa Public Television will broadcast highlights of the state girls’ track meet at 8 p.m. June 30.
STRIKES AND STROKES IKM-Manning softball player Abbey Youngren hit two home runs and threw a three-inning no-hitter in a 14-0 win over Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson June 21.
NUMBERS GAME Springville baseball player Kolton Markley struck out 20 batters over nine innings in a 4-2 win over Clinton Prince of Peace Monday. Markley, a senior, moved into a tie for eighth place in state history for the most strikeouts in an extra-inning game. The Iowa all-time best is 24 for extra innings.
TALK TO JOHN
Contact John Naughton at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JohnNaughton