Let’s replicate the model deployed for the district’s Athletic Trainers and apply it to AQUATICS.

All high schools with scholastic-sports teams within Pittsburgh Public Schools have athletic trainers that help to care for the health and wellness of the PPS student-athletes. These athletic trainers are present for practices and competitions. They serve boys-and-girls and work among various venues.

Presently, the existing model for the Athletic Trainers deployed at Pittsburgh Public Schools is great. I love it. It works well. I’ve always been grateful of the support received from the Athletic Trainers. The model for the service delivery provides a huge assets and support for the athletes, coaches, guardians and administrators.

The athletic trainers, with the initials, A.T.C., after their names, are professionals, academically trained and certified. They get continuing education and are hired, managed and evaluated from a central office. The division head for athletics in Pittsburgh Public Schools, Mr. Mike Gavlik. He supervises the service contract for athletic training with UPMC Sports Medicine. The contract details the services rendered so that the school principals and coaches do not need to worry about coverage from the athletic trainers. A well executed, district-wide approach makes great sense. It is efficient and effective. Bravo to you all for such wonderful results.

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh Public Schools, in AQUATICS, a much different model and resulting outcomes are unfolding.

With our swim teams and with our programs at the various PPS swim pools in after-school hours programs, everything is site-based. Site-based aquatic programming isn’t working, IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion).

Pittsburgh Public Schools (and taxpayers) have 15, indoor, swim pools within our schools. My audit and experiences show that we are lucky to get two-percent of the value in community benefits of our paid-for facilities in OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME activities.

I am worried about activities, programs, leadership and opportunities offered our kids and the communities at the pools in afternoons, evenings, nights, weekends, holidays, vacations and throughout the weeks of summer.

Most of the time, the pools sit idle. They are closed.

To be clear, what happens in Physical Education in the normal school day is not a concern of this suggested proposal.

Just as UPMC Sports Medicine handles system-wide needs for athletic training, PPS needs a system-wide approach to what happens in the swimming pools beyond the school day.

The engagement for the students, the competitive swimmers, and the communities is suffering and an overhaul of purpose, methods, programming, hiring responsibilities and mission in AQUATICS is needed and can be delivered with an AQUATICS DIRECTOR.

Take these tasks off the backs of the school principals.

Let’s deploy a system and thrive. Let’s train lifeguards, compete around the region, and deliver serious health and wellness benefits.

One of the most simple and direct paths for implementation of this suggestion is to attach AQUATICS to the budding PPS Community Schools network. The new PPS Community Schools program began in the fall of 2017. This trailblazing program that was championed by the PPS School Board before the arrival of the existing superintendent, Dr. Anthony Hamlet, aims to form a model for increased engagement and cooperation among community agencies, school staff, students and families. The first five designated community schools in PPS include three schools with under-utilized swimming pools: Westinghouse, Arsenal, Langley. The PPS Board made a dramatic step to embrace the concept of PPS Community Schools, as a pilot, among five of its schools. These suggestions for AQUATICS go hand-in-hand with the efforts of PPS Community Schools. Let’s make a splash with AQUATICS with PPS Community Schools.

Let’s coordinate human resources among lifeguards, swim instructors, coaches, rec organizations and have an aquatic mission that fits the various facilities and interests of the kids and grows as they improve.

Our students need to know that their devotion and investment into swimming is supported. The un-tapped potential within Pittsburgh’s kids in aquatics is phenomenal. But, we as coaches and administrators, we need to be nimble at the pools and offer excellent programs. Aquatics can be a vital cornerstone for PPS Community Schools.

These programs can pull their own weight financially. Creative and inspiring leadership coupled with important partnerships can make the AQUATICS programs sustainable.

To implement the vision, the Administration and PPS Board negotiators should carve out AQUATICS from the realm of the PFT Contract. Assigning coaching duties, instructors and lifeguards need to be fluid and flexible, coordinated and well deployed. Accountability, certifications, and alignments to systems, squads and developmental pathways need to make sense.

Go figure: Last year, a swim meet between Obama and Allderdice as impossible to schedule.

A four-fold increase in both quantity and quality is expected as a first-year bump.

In 2017, PPS has about 250 kids who swim. With the pools we have, PPS could have 1,000+ kids calling themselves swimmers.

Going swimming and being a swimmer are different.

We want to turn around the opportunities so our kids become:

  1. scholarship student-athletes,
  2. employed at the pools,
  3. competitors with anyone, and
  4. know how to play well with others.

Progress should happen in 2018. Let’s make it happen. Your reactions in the comments below are welcome.

Vote “YES” in the ballot question facing voters in the City of Pittsburgh’s general election

Thanks for the consideration and “YES” vote.

ballot question
Photo of the ballot question with some fancy dots to over-compensate for the drab text.

Presently, those that have jobs with the City of Pittsburgh, (such as firefighter, policeman, EMS worker, and city council member) can NOT be hired as coaches with Pittsburgh Public Schools. Let’s fix this with YES votes.

Obama Swim & Water Polo

Time to get back into the water!

After-school aquatic fun with Coach Mark begins this week.

Bring your swim suit and show up to the Obama swim pool after school, every day except Fridays.

Middle School at 4 pm to 5 pm, then activity bus.

High School students from 5 pm to 7 pm.

Adults and community programs at 7:30 to 9 pm on Mondays & Wednesdays.

All abilities welcome. Even if you don’t know how to swim,

we’ll teach you.

We’ll play water polo, SKWIM, and refine our swimming strokes, dives, flip turns and gain plenty of fitness.

Extra Coaching and game days: Saturday Swim School, Oliver HS pool,

2323 Brighton Road, Northside from 11:30 am to 1 pm.

Coach’s contact: Mark@Rauterkus.com 412-298-3432 CLOH.org