Middle school program opens doors, opportunities

Numerous studies have linked extracurricular activities to improved academic performance. To increase its extracurricular options and impact even more students, Garland ISD introduced a middle school soccer program in 2014-15.

“The addition of middle school soccer has been very successful," said Director of Athletics Cliff Odenwald. “Soccer creates additional opportunities for students to represent their middle school. Many of the students who participate in soccer do not compete on other school athletic teams.”

GISD is home to 24 middle school boys and girls teams, composed of seventh and eighth-grade students. Offering an additional sport at these grade levels reveals hidden strengths and a source of campus pride. 

“Some schools that have had difficulties in other sports are successful in soccer,” Odenwald explained. 

And Odenwald sees a bright future for the program, its teams and participants.

“As in all sports, soccer encourages academic achievement because of the ‘no pass, no play’ rule,” he expressed. “Overall, student athletes and the district benefit from the program. It is an asset to the GISD athletic program because of increased participation numbers and long-term promotion of athletic and academic success.”