Beginning in the fall of 2020, Colorado high school students will have more options for athletics, after the Colorado High School Activities Association sanctioned three new sports for the first time since 1998.
At their annual meeting on April 24, CHSAA’s Legislative Council voted to approve boys volleyball, girls wrestling, and unified bowling, the first new sports since boys and girls lacrosse and girls field hockey were added 20 years ago.
Niwot athletic director Chase McBride, who is also a member of CHSAA’s Board of Directors, said recommending approval for the three new sports was an easy decision, after they successfully navigated the complex sanctioning process.
“They followed the process, they got some active participation, and did what they were supposed to do…. Really, it’s about equity. You have to be able to balance the addition of sports—you can’t just throw a sport out there, and not be able to offer it to both genders. You also have to make sure it can be funded, and you have to make sure it’s a good fit for the season. There’s a lot of things that go into it.”
The three new sports will launch their inaugural seasons during the 2020-21 school year, after spending the coming year forming leagues and establishing postseason criteria. It’s too early to know if any area schools will land new teams, but, after a successful pilot season, Niwot is a good candidate for a boys volleyball team.
Boys volleyball is on its second trip through the CHSAA sanctioning process. Equity issues tripped up the sport in 2016, but according to McBride, advocates for the sport were able to address those shortcomings in the intervening three years, and robust participation numbers during the pilot season tipped the scales in its favor.
Niwot was one of nearly 80 teams from across the state that participated in the eight-week pilot season this spring. Approximately 45 smaller schools compete in the 3A classification, with larger schools in 5A. A total of eight teams from six schools in the St. Vrain Valley district took part in the pilot, which came as a surprise to McBride and other district personnel.
“I had some interest at Niwot, so we opened it up to see what it would be like,” he said. “It was nice to see there were so many new athletes out there. It was a total success story in terms of opening opportunities for people who maybe hadn’t been involved in athletics before.”
It was a different story for girls wrestling, where just a handful of girls in St. Vrain Valley participated, possibly due to competition from girls swimming, which draws big numbers in the district. McBride expects to see it grow locally, now that it has officially joined CHSAAs ranks.
McBride will oversee that growth as the St. Vrain Valley’s athletic director, a position he will assume later this year. Incoming Niwot AD Kevin Clark, currently at Loveland High School, will be at the helm when the new sports are officially launched.
“With Niwot going through and piloting boys volleyball, that, in my eyes, will probably be the smoothest transition,” he said about the potential implementation. “At Loveland High School, we piloted girls wrestling, so I’m excited to be a part of that sport growing as well.”
McBride said he’s also excited about bringing new sports to the athletes of SVVSD.
“Anytime that you can give opportunities to kids is a great thing. I’m always going to look for more opportunities and more involvement and opportunities for kids to do more than one thing. It brings more choice into our schools and gives us an advantage that maybe surrounding schools don’t have.”