Press Release

Crete Public Schools is now offering youth sports opportunities in the community through a new program called First Flight.

“We want more of our students involved in more activities throughout their time with Crete Public Schools,” said Crete superintendent Dr. Josh McDowell. “First Flight will provide a fun youth sports experience for all of our Cardinals.”

Accessibility to opportunities to be involved is a key component for the district. 

“Across the country there are opportunity gaps for kids, whether that is caused by poverty, language, ability or simply access,” McDowell said. “By having the district take on these programs, we are able to close these gaps in accessibility.”

He also stressed the removal of barriers to involvement as a priority for First Flight.

“Cost of participation should not keep any Crete student from being a part of the First Flight program,” McDowell said. “Likewise, we will work with parents on any other barrier keeping kids from having these amazing experiences.”

The district is currently investigating and researching opportunities for K-6 students in all the NSAA sports available at Crete High School. This may include a combination of youth camps, skills development, games and leagues.

“It’s also important for us to promote healthy lifestyles for our students,” McDowell said. “First Flight will work to open kids up to new opportunities for exercise and fitness.”

The focus for CPS is certainly getting all kids active.

“We want to both introduce kids to sports that may be new to them and help those who have played these sports grow their skills,” said B.T. Kracl, First Flight coordinator and middle school athletic director. “Mostly, we want all kids to enjoy their time in the activity and have fun with their peers.”

A bonus, Kracl said, would be developing a long-term love of a sport through the program.

“We would love to increase participation in Crete Cardinal high school activities by introducing more kids to a variety of sports at a younger age,” he said. “The overall participation in some of our athletic programs have started to decline, and the makeup of our athletes does not reflect the diversity of our district. We believe First Flight can address this.”

The initial First Flight program will be basketball, beginning with free clinics with the varsity coaching staff. The clinics will be Oct. 18-21, with boys on Monday and Wednesday and girls on Tuesday and Thursday. Kindergarten through second grade students will be at the elementary gym from 4 to 4:45 p.m.; third through sixth grade students will be at the middle school gym from 5 to 6 p.m.

First Flight Basketball will continue in November with a new style of league. Students will be divided by age and will have Wednesday evening and Saturday morning camps for instruction and skill development before starting 3-on-3 games in January. The players will be placed on new teams each week during the season. Games will be Wednesday evenings. There will be open gyms on Saturday mornings.

“Our research shows us this format will help develop skills in all of the age groups, while providing more playing action for each participant,” Kracl said. “Our coaches are excited to see the impact.”

McDowell said the district will continue to expand the offerings of First Flight.

“We are starting with basketball, but the plan will be for similar opportunities at all ages for exploring football, volleyball, golf, tennis, wrestling, track and field, cross country, soccer, baseball and softball,” he said.  

Not every experience will look the same at each grade level, but all kids will have the opportunity to get some exposure to each sport, he said.

“For some of these sports, if your parents aren’t in a position to introduce you to it - say tennis or golf or soccer - you may never discover it is something you really love,” McDowell said. “We want all of our students to have access to make these discoveries.”

The district is working to finalize the registration process and final details for the First Flight Basketball sessions. More information will be sent to parents in the coming weeks.



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