Asking Pittsburgh Public Schools to switch funding at Obama from golf to water polo

Expanded testimony

Mark Rauterkus
Mark Rauterkus

I am Mark Rauterkus, Mark@Rauterkus.com, of Pittsburgh’s South Side. I coach for the district and was on the PPS Athletic Reform Task Force, inactive for more than five years. My sons graduated from PPS and are in college.

I speak at public hearings and attend many community and government meetings around town often, generally as an advocate for system-wide issues. Today, is different. I have a specific request for the superintendent and/or school board members. This request does benefit dozens, if not hundreds, of students in the future.

Environment

River of support with or without obstructions
River of support with or without obstructions

I’m here because the chain-of-command from school athletic director, principal and district athletic office are not inclined to make these changes themselves. The mechanism for making changes to our athletic landscape from within the system are still absent. Furthermore, the desire to reconvene district-wide athletic reform is absent among certain key employees. Perhaps sports reform and an evolution of opportunities is going to change in the months to come with the new board and superintendent. Time will tell. I have high hopes.

I do receive a “river of support” from various people within PPS. Sadly, significant, often predictable and inexplicable obstructions appear. We’ve learned how to navigate around a few of them in the last decade. But, in my view, we still have oceans full of challenges regarding after-school, sports, wellness and the issues that revolve around the leading of quality programs for our students.

Present fall snapshot

Saturday Swim School, week 3
Saturday Swim School, week 3

Presently, I’m coaching Swim & Water Polo to 100+ city-kids, both boys and girls, generally in co-ed settings. Most of these kids are in the middle-school grades.

  • 30 at the charter school,
  • 20 at Arsenal,
  • 20 at Obama,
  • 20, so far, at the Saturday Swim School held at Oliver Citiwide High School.
    More are welcome and expected on Saturdays. See the hand-out.
  • Plus, about 30 are gearing up for the varsity teams.

Recent summer’s snapshot

We had 50 students in Swim & Water Polo at Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Summer Dreamers Academy in 2016. Sadly we got stuck at Carmalt without a pool and needed to take bus rides every day to Brashear High School. We have successfully coached 200 Summer Dreamers in 2015, (and nearly that many in prior summers). We should be trending to serve more than 500 kids every summer at Swim & Water Polo within Summer Dreamers, in my humble opinion.

Another 90 kids, grades 1 to 9, played Swim & Water Polo as part of their summer camp experience thanks to the support of The Pittsburgh Project on Pittsburgh’s Northside.

My coaching is a labor of love for very little money that reaches lots of kids for many days. We are teaching kids how to swim and then we pull out the water disks and balls and build teams and push them into experiences as aquatic athletes.

Here and There

Plenty of this occurs with volunteer efforts, but some funding considerations are necessary. This year a $2,500 discrepancy surfaced with the Summer Dreamers contract because PPS staff shortages necessitated my hire of additional coaches. That’s a sizable chunk of money in this endeavor. This is an issue for another day, sorta.

This fall, I’m at five different pools, off and on, and I’m only talking about OUT OF SCHOOL TIME, not in-school Physical Education.

Swim squad at Arsenal Middle School
Squad at Arsenal Middle School

Pool Capacity

Pittsburgh Public Schools owns and operates 14 indoor swim pools. These pools, public assets, sit idle often, especially after-school days, in the evenings, at nights, on weekends, throughout holidays and in the summers. I think only two of the 14 pools were used in very limited hours on some days this summer. My calculations claim that the capacity for training swimmers, in these outside-the-school-day opportunities should reach more than 6,000 individuals every year. We might engage 600 now.

Water polo ball at side of pool, in the shallow end. We often play "bottom friendly water polo" with kids who are just learning how to swim.
Water polo ball at side of pool, in the shallow end. We often play “bottom friendly water polo” with kids who are just learning how to swim.

The investments to build these pools has been made. We own them. We manage them. We have closed a few of them in recent years, such as Reizenstein, Schenley, Prospect, South, Knoxville, Gladstone. But the point to stress with these school pools is that they are cement and tile structures filled with water, and the water in those swim pools does not wear out. In my biased opinion, these swim pools are nearly indestructible, and as classrooms, the swim pools are the best learning laboratories our kids might ever encounter when it comes to teaching them lessons of personal and group excellence.

Meanwhile

In the fall of 2016, there was ONE student on the Obama golf team.

In the fall of 2016 and 2015, NONE of the Obama golfers even went to the city championships.

I was Obama’s Golf Coach

I know about golf at Obama, because, I coached that team for two seasons in 2012 and 2013.

Obama Golf Team at Steps of School
Past Obama Golf Team with Coach Rauterkus at steps of school. Bus in the background, because we had to bus to practices and matches.
Golfers meet at a course
Golfers from various teams meet at a course
Golfers
Older photo: District 8, Golf Championships Finalist with city golfers except Allderdice, a team that played in the WPIAL that year.
Golfers at The Bob O'Connor Course
Golfers at The Bob O’Connor Course

The ask:

I’m asking for the PPS Board and Superintendent to PULL the plug on Varsity GOLF at Obama and redirect the sports budget for golf to water polo at Obama. Both golf and water polo are fall sports.

Replace the golf team (and its one athlete) with water polo and gain 20 to 60 kids on teams next year. We’ll have boys and girls water polo teams at the varsity, junior varsity and middle school levels.

Kids grow

More than 20 middle school students, mostly girls, at Obama Acadmey, are playing water polo now.

dscf3421

Well, … we should have had middle-school water polo games today, but the pool has been closed for as a needed electrical inspection.

Last school year, I volunteered and taught more than 15 6th grade boys how to swim and play water polo. We had three times as many kids and as many practices with the optional, spring water polo as the Obama Middle School Swim Team did with its official winter season. These same kids are still excited as 7th graders. Our reach with water polo this year has grown to include kids in all the middle-school grades.

I think they deserve a funded and supported high school water polo team to look forward too.

We have a swim pool. We don’t have a golf course.

We have the demand for water polo. Golf has gone down the drain at Obama.

Water polo will keep our kids engaged, fit and excited about swimming. Water polo will help the swim teams and get many kids to learn to swim and one-day become lifeguards.

Neutral

A modest budget is necessary to cover costs for uniforms, officials, travel, equipment and a coach. But we’re cutting golf expenses.

Golf can survive

Transfer

Truth be told, Pittsburgh Public Schools does not really need to eliminate golf opportunities. The solution I’m proposing does not pit one sport against another. Looking deeper, let’s make this a win-win with some level-headed reforms.

The easiest understanding is an awareness that kids and families vote with their feet. If a student wants to play golf, that student can enroll in Allderdice High School. Families depart the city school all the time due to the disparity of the athletic opportunities presented at city school when contrasted to most of the suburban schools. Allerdice is closer to the Bob O’Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park and that school has a much better tradition of golf than all the other schools in the district. Still, there is no girls golf team at Allderdice. Golf at Allderdice could use the extra players and support.

Older photo: Obama Golf Squad when coach by Mark Rauterkus
Older photo: Obama Golf Squad when coach by Mark Rauterkus

Cooperate

Additionally, Pittsburgh Public Schools could tinker with the sports co-op agreements among Allderdice High School, Obama Academy and Sci-Tech with golf so that students from all three schools could compete in varsity golf for Allderdice. If a CAPA student who resides within the Allderdice feeder pattern wants to play golf at Allderdice, he or she can join the team. Same with a home-schooled student. Students who go to Obama could join the Allderdice golf squad too if the co-op is formed and the letters are sent to the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Assocation) office.

Two way Cooperation with Water Polo and Golf

Likewise let’s leverage the co-op agreements in Water Polo as is suggested for Golf.

Co-op sports agreements should be floated so interested students at Allderdice can join Obama’s Water Polo Teams.

This happens frequently in suburban districts. One school district offers a swim team while the other school district offers a wrestling team. Then, kids from both school districts can do both sports. A majority of the swim teams in the WPIAL Class AA Section that includes Obama Academy are co-op teams. Carlynton High School has a pool and a swim team that allows the Bishop Canevin students to join. This is a regular occurrence in the scholastic sports landscape among some smaller schools. It is not ideal, but it happens.

USO Football T-shirt
USO Football t-shirt

The USO football team in Pittsburgh Public Schools includes students from U-Prep, Sci-Tech and Obama. A similar deal can happen with golf and water polo too, if creative thinking can prevail.

David, Sead, Mark, Noah, Zack, E.
David, Sead, Mark, Noah, Zack, E.
Zack O as employee
Zack O, departed Sci-Tech after 9th and 10th grade to attend Allderdice. Zack worked as a lifeguard for Swim & Water Polo Camp in the summer of 2015.
    Obama’s water polo team could be extended to support students from:

  • Allderdice,
  • Westinghouse,
  • U-Prep,
  • Oliver,
  • CAPA,
  • Sci-Tech,
  • Winchester Thurston,
  • Ellis,
  • Seton LaSalle,
  • and perhaps a few other smaller schools within and next to the city’s borders.

Pittsburgh Combined

When we went to Ohio on past occasions, we called ourselves, Pittsburgh Combined.

Then we’ve got a best of all world’s situation, more kids with better opportunities.

img_1877

Thanks for the governmental oversight.

Thanks for listening and the consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon. My cell: 412-298-3432.

Goal, or no goal?
Goal, or no goal?

Associated Handouts

Printed materials provided at the public hearing on October 17, 2016.

MLK Day Water Polo Clinic at Sarah Heinz House is slated for 1 pm on January 16, 2017

No school on January 16, 2017. So, let’s all gather at the Sarah Heinz House for a water polo clinic and some game time.

water-polo-flier-january

 

Get a copy of this one-page PDF from the wiki to pass out to the kids on your team or in your school.

Click and sign-up at the Facebook event too.

Hi Swim Friends!

We are holding a water polo practice and game day that all are invited to attend at the Sarah Heinz House on the Northside on Friday, Nov 11, from 1 to 3 pm. Come on down to the pool. No school.

On Saturday, Nov 12, and on other Saturdays throughout the winter, except over holiday weekends, we are holding a new Saturday Swim School that has proven to be a lot of fun. But we have more room for you and yours. We meet from 11:30 to 1 pmat the Oliver High School Pool on the Northside, at 2323 Brighton Road, Pgh, 15212.

In other news for the future, I’m going to be offering an 8 week session of Swim & Water Polo for ADULTS from 7:30 to 9 pm on Wednesday nights at the swim pool in the Carnegie Library of Homestead. That is in association with PUMP (Pgh Urban Magnet Project) and its PSL (Pittsburgh Sports League). More news at: http://pittsburghsportsleague.leagueapps.com/leagues/swimming/195579-winter-17-skwim—wednesdays–cloh-pool

Our middle school and varsity swim teams are starting up in the days to come. Hope to get lots of students onto their team’s swim teams. Let me know if I can help.

Coach Mark Rauterkus, 412-298-3432 = cell
Mark@Rauterkus.com

http://CLOH.org

Open Water Swim Seminar at our Saturday Swim School with expert coach, Joella

Calling all open water swimmers, coaches, varsity swimmers interested in open water swimming, and triathletes, of course. We are going to do our first SEMINAR at the Saturday Swim School and devote a three-hour session to skills and insights associated with open water swimming.

november-5-flier-open-water-swim-clinic-2016-2

This is the first time we’ve been able to a introduce a new partnership with Joella. Not only is she a great triathlete, but she is a coach and director of a youth triathlon team that aims to expand with activities in the city of Pittsburgh.

In the summer of 2016, a few of the city kids were able to join in with the open water swims hosted at Moraine State Park. A former Schenley and Obama swimmer, Jonnah, was also able to race in the sprint triathlon in September too. Next year, we want to be going north for open water swims and triathlons by the van and bus loads. But, it starts now, here, on November 5. We need to gain the knowledge, insights, and confidence of how it works to swim in the open.

Space is limited to 20 people. Sign up now with an email.

As a bonus, stick around after the session ends at 1 pm to learn and play Underwater Hockey to 1:45 pm. So, if you have a mask, snorkel and fins, bring them.

As a triple bonus, show up at 8 am to play the aquatic game of SKIWM. That happens from 8 am to 10.

Feel free to pass the word. Copy this URL, http://cloh.org/wp/archives/682.

Handouts and Invites

For South Side POPS and posted to Facebook:

Join Coach Mark of the Obama swim team at the Obama swim pool from 7 to 9 PM on Wednesday (Oct 26) for special community open swim and water polo practice to celebrate the re-opening of the Obama swim pool and the pending start of the high school and middle school swim seasons.

Students, parents, swimmers and even friends and families are welcome to bring their suit and towels to the pool to take a dip, get a few pointers and consider the benefits of aquatic fitness.

Pool party, 7 to 9 pm on Wednesday. Jump in. Feet first!

For those at the Sarah Heinz House:

shh-poster-oct2016

For students at Arsenal Middle School:

poster2-for-2016-ms-arsenal-water-polo

For those who were a part of Summer Dreamers Swim & Water Polo

dreamer-outreach2
Saturday Swim School poster at Oliver High School
Pittsburgh is a swimming town.

For students at Langley

poster2-for-2016-ms-langley

For Students at Sci-Tech

poster2-for-2016-ms-sci-tech

For Students at Obama

obama-newsletter-post_kingsley

For Tiger Water Polo Players in grades 6, 7 and 8

calling_tigers_for_nov_28

General Handout to anyone in Pittsburgh

saturday_sw_sch_generic

For High School Swimmers at Brashear, Carrick and Allderdice

pps-hs_swimmers-for_saturdays

For varsity swimmers, triathletes, high school athletes at Central and elsewhere

catholic-hs_swimmers-for_saturdays

For Triathletes, Pittsburgh Triathlon Club, any swimmer looking to do Open Water Swims in the future, Coaches and Future Leaders in Outdoor Settings

november-5-flier-open-water-swim-clinic-2016-2

Urgent Game Days Newsletter for Obama Middle School Water Polo

In advance of the game on Friday, October 21, this four-page newsletter is made available at school. The permission slip pages need to be completed to attend the game as the venue is shifting from Obama’s home pool to Kingsley’s pool.

obama-newsletter-pre_kingsley

Swim & Water Polo‘s

Urgent Game-Days Newsletter

from Coach Mark@Rauterkus.com 412-298-3432

Your reply and attention is necessary.

Since the swim pool at Obama Academy is still, presently closed. An electrical inspection is needed. So, the plans detailed here are being put into place for scheduled games. See the details and fill out the permission slip, plus opt-in-or-out of future events.

1. Obama Academy Middle School Teams, both boys and girls, are going to play aquatic games (SKWIM) against Manchester Academic Charter School Mustangs from 3:30 pm to 5 pm on Friday, 10/21/16 at the swim pool of the Kingsley Association, (412) 661-8751, kingsleyassocation.org, 6435 Frankstown Ave (& East Liberty Blvd), Pgh, 15206.

Students wishing to PLAY in the GAME(s) MUST have their Parents / Guardians complete the attached permission slip and return it to Coach Mark’s Mailbox in the Obama office TOMORROW (Friday, 10/21) morning.

2. Going to the game on Friday, Oct 21, Obama students who have their completed permission slips into the office are going to be excused from class at 3 pm at WALK as a group down East Liberty Blvd. (about three blocks) to Kingsley.

4. Going home from the game on Friday, Oct 21, students are going to be able to take the 5 pm activity bus from Obama to their home. Students who walk home are going to depart from Kingsley.. Parents and guardians who can drive their students home should come to the game at the Kingsley pool, and then, obviously, pick up their student(s) from the Kingsley location.

5. On Saturday (Oct 22), all (grades 4 to 12, any school) are invited to the 11:30 am to 1 pm, Swim & Water Polo practice and scrimmage as part of the new Saturday Swim School, at Oliver High School, 2323 Brighton Road, Northside, Pgh 15212. Students need to get their own their own. No transportation is provided.

6. From 12:45 pm to 2:30 pm on Sunday, Oct 23, Pittsburgh’s Middle School Water Polo players, “Pittsburgh Combined,” are playing games against North Allegheny at North Allegheny Senior High School, 10375 Perry Hwy, Wexford, PA 15090.

6a. Ideally, players and families travel to North Allegheny on their own. See you there.

6b. Some player that needs a ride to the game on Sunday, Oct 23, at North Allegheny, can travel with Coach Mark. With the support of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp, Coach Mark is able to drive a van for up to 10 players to participate in the game at North Allegheny – pending your phone call reservation. To reserve a spot in the van, call or text Coach Mark, 412-298-3432.

On Sunday, Oct 23, the van (and carpools too) are slated to depart the Obama parking lot at 11:30 am, and depart the parking lot of the Sarah Heinz House at noon. We plan to arrive at North Allegheny at 12:45 pm. There are limited seats in the van. First come, first served. Reserve your space with a phone call to Coach Mark, 412-298-3432.

We expect to return to Pittsburgh around 3:30 pm. Pick-up phone calls can be made after the event with more exact times.

More game opportunities. No transportation is being provided for the following events.

7. Saturday, Nov 5, 8 to 10 am, Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School. No transportation.

8. Tuesday, Nov 8, election day, no school for PPS, 12:30 to 3 pm, Sarah Heinz House, Northside.

9. Friday, Nov 11, Veterans Day, no PPS school, 1 pm to 3:30 pm, Sarah Heinz House, Northside

10. Saturday, Nov 12, 11:30 to 1 pm, Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School.

11. Saturday, Nov 19, 11:30 to 1 pm, Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School.

12. Saturdays in December, (Dec, 3, Dec 10, & Dec 17) either 10 am or 11:30 am for a SKWIM’s City TOURNAMENT as part of the Saturday Swim School at Oliver High School.

See the google calendar at CLOH.org for updates. A new web site is coming soon, Swim.CLOH.org. Students are encouraged to join their winter-season swim teams. Catalog of optional clothing with school colors is available for families to order if desired. Statement to the PPS School Board and Superintendent about future funding status of water polo is public at CLOH.org. Pittsburgh hosts the National Drowning Prevention Alliance meeting in April 2017.

Swim & Water Polo Sign Up & Game-Day Intentions:

Student’s Full Name: ________________________________________________________

Student’s Grade: ____________________________

Students’ School: ________________________________________________________

Student’s date of birth: ____________________________

Student’s T-shirt size: (note either ADULT or YOUTH): ____________________________

Student’s Address: ________________________________________________________

Student’s Home Phone: ____________________________

Student’s Cell Phone: ____________________________

Student’s Email: ____________________________

In case of emergency:

Guardian(s) #1 Name: ________________________________________________________

Guardian #1 Phone: ____________________________

Guardian #1 Email: ____________________________

Guardian(s) #2 Name: ________________________________________________________

Guardian #2 Phone: ____________________________

Guardian #2 Email: ____________________________

Permission for Photography / Video and Internet Display

I grant Coach Mark Rauterkus, Pittsburgh Public Schools, CLOH.org, the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, America Water Polo, SKWIM USA, and all other organizations associated with the program the absolute and irrevocable right and unrestricted permission concerning any photographs and videos that he/she has taken or may take of me and the students, or in which I may be included with others, to use, reuse, publish, and republish the photographs in whole or in part, individually or in connection with other material, in any and all media now or hereafter known, including the internet, and for any purpose whatsoever, specifically including illustration, promotion, art, editorial, advertising, and trade, without restriction as to alteration; and to use my name in connection with any use if he/she so chooses. I release and discharge Photographer from any and all claims and demands that may arise out of or in connection with the use of the photographs, including without limitation any and all claims for libel or violation of any right of publicity or privacy. This authorization and release shall also inure to the benefit of the heirs, legal representatives, licensees, and assigns of Photographer, as well as the person(s) for whom he/she took the photographs. I am a legally competent adult and have the right to contract in my own name and for the students. I have read this document and fully understand its contents. This release shall be binding upon me and my heirs, legal representatives, and assigns.

Guardian signature: ______________________________________________ Date: _____________________

Obama Students: Return this form at school office mailbox of Coach Mark Rauterkus.

More insights at CLOH.org. (Complete other side of paper too.)

Swimmer’s Name: ________________________________________________

Guardian’s name and contact info needs to be on the other side of this paper.

Question 1: Student has permission to attend game on Friday, Oct 21 at Kingsley.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 2: Guardian is aware and the student is prepared to WALK from Obama to Kingsley for the game on Friday, Oct 21.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 3: Student will take the 5 pm activity bus home after the Friday, Oct 21 game.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 4: Student will have a pick-up at Kingsley or walk home after Friday, Oct 21 game at Kingsley.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 5: Student is expected to attend the Saturday Swim School game from 11:30 to 1 pm on Saturday, Oct 22, at Oliver High School, 2323 Brighton Road, Northside, Pgh 15212.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 6: Student is expected to attend the game from 12:45 pm to 2:30 pm on Sunday, Oct 23, at North Allegheny Senior High School.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Students who need a ride in the van to attend the game at North Allegheny must call for reservation.

Question 7: Student is expected to attend the 8 am to 10 am game on Saturday, Nov 5, at Oliver High School.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 8: Student is expected to attend the 12:30 to 3 pm games on Tuesday, Nov 8, election day, a day of no school for PPS. Student must get to and from the Sarah Heinz House, Northside.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 9. Student is expected to attend the game from 1 to 3:30 pm on Friday, Nov 11, Veterans Day. No PPS school that day. Student must get to and from the Sarah Heinz House, Northside.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

Question 10. Student is expected to attend the game from 11:30 to 1 pm on Saturday, Nov 12, at Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

11. Student is expected to attend the 11:30 to 1 pm games on Saturday, Nov 19, at Oliver High School, Saturday Swim School.

YES – or – NO (circle one)

12. Student is expected to participate in the SKWIM City TOURNAMENT as part of the Saturday Swim School at Oliver High School on December 3, December 10, and December 17 Swimmers should particpate in games at either 10 am to 11:30 or 11:30 am to 1 pm.

YES – or – NO (circle one)