Fort Wayne Community Schools worried more about students’ future than loss of talented athletes to prep schools

(Courtesy of Fort Wayne Community Schools)

The possibility of athletics-oriented prep schools pulling good athletes away isn’t a big concern for Fort Wayne Community Schools, but the trend toward students specializing in one sport at a young age does worry FWCS board of school trustees President Julie Hollingsworth.

If students “put all their eggs in one basket” and then suffer burnout or injury, “now what?” asked Hollingsworth, a longtime FWCS math teacher who also served as athletic director at Elmhurst High School from 2001-2006.

The issue made local news recently with the announcement that junior Mikale Stevenson, who was the leading scorer on South Side High School’s boys’ basketball team and the quarterback for the Archers’ football team, was leaving the school to finish his high school career at prep school Lincoln Academy in Suwanee, Ga.

Rumors also swirled this weekend that another top local player may be leaving his school for prep school, but those rumors appear to be false.

Hollingsworth said FWCS can’t do anything about students choosing to leave FWCS to attend athletics-oriented prep schools, which work to develop talented youngsters into high-level college and professional athletes.

But she doesn’t think FWCS will lose too many students to prep schools, unlike the hundreds of students who live in FWCS boundaries and attend local charter schools or use the state’s Choice Scholarship vouchers to attend local private and parochial schools.

“The way I look at it, somebody leaves — that’s an opportunity for somebody else,” she said of student-athletes departing for prep schools.

While acknowledging she’s never been the parent of an elite athlete, Hollingsworth said she’s never been in favor of athletics-oriented prep schools.

Students who specialize in one sport early in life will be left with nothing, she said, if the sport becomes more work than fun or if the student suffers an injury that prevents him or her from playing again.

It used to be that good athletes played two or three different sports, and Hollingsworth still believes that is a good approach.

RELATED STORY: South Side basketball leading scorer, football quarterback Mikale Stevenson leaves for Georgia prep school


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