5 6 NB Track High Jump

Allie Smith competes for New Buffalo in a recent high school track meet at River Valley.

NEW BUFFALO — New Buffalo Athletic Director Matt Johnson made a presentation on the district’s athletics program during the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education’s April 26 meeting.

He said during the current 2020-2021 school year 66 percent of the student body (121 in total) have participated in athletics in some form (with nearly a 50-50 split between male and female athletes), which is in line with the percentage over the last five years.

Johnson said the rate of three-sport athletes is down a little this year at 15 percent (it’s been as high as 24 percent), adding that there seem to be a lot of one-sport athletes during the winter season. Two sports athletes constitute 42 percent of the total.

“Considering the circumstances of this past year, to have our percentage of kids participating in sports pretty much parallel what we’ve done in the past, to me, is really amazing.”

He said the next step is to encourage more student-athletes to branch out into three sports.

Highlights of the last year include the girls volleyball team winning conference and district titles for the second straight year (Johnson later announced that varsity coach Kevin Labaj would not be returning for the 2021 season); the boys basketball team claiming a district championship (they also won in 2019 – there was no 2020 champion); the football team reached the second round of the eight-man playoffs; and so far this spring 83 athletes are competing across six sports. He said New Buffalo is slated to host the district track meet later in May and there is a new scoreboard at the softball field.

Johnson said every athlete 13 years of age and up has to be tested weekly for COVID during the spring season.

He said one athlete and one manager have missed time due to the positive coronavirus cases this school year.

Johnson said some coaching meetings have taken place as the co-op football program with River Valley heads toward is fall 2021 debut.

“We’re working on getting some team meetings together throughout this whole process,” he said, adding that the team “seems t be leaning toward calling themselves the Red Arrow Raiders … they like the colors black and silver.”

In other New Buffalo Area School Board of Education business:

• Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie said a COVID Pfizer vaccination clinic for students 16 to 18 was tentatively set for 1 to 3 p.m. May 6 at the school (parent permission required), with the second shot slated for May 27.

• There was some discussion on the ongoing courtyard project at the middle/high school (Leslie said the enclosed outdoor area is getting good use by students) and the possibility of scheduling a prom before the end of the school year (later set for May 15).

• Leslie said the final draft of a New Buffalo Recreational Authority is scheduled to be approved by the board on May 10 (with the city and township set to do the same on May 17).

• The board approved hiring Carl Drewes as an aide for the Bison After School Education (BASE).

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