Excerpt from email this morning to Cambridge athletics people:
We had a great first fall orienteering season. Huge thanks to all involved!
There are two main projects to consider for the spring:
(1) March-April: Send middle and CRLS school teams to Junior Nationals April 28-29 in Holyoke, MA. There are 4 age-based levels of difficulty; each school can send any number of 5-person teams in each category. I propose that we recruit the teams and parents in Jan-Feb, and Navigation Games can provide ~6 tailored trainings so the team members are able to complete their courses. One goal is for CRLS to race (and win) Varsity for the first time ever (previously we won JV). City councilor Craig Kelley is supportive of getting teams to Nationals.
(2) April-May-June: High school and middle school sport teams, with regular afterschool practices as in the fall but more focus on racing; final races at Danehy on June 5th. I am optimistic we can get all 5 middle schools involve this time.
Main challenges: finding coaches (teams) and getting parents involved (for Junior Nationals).
In addition, Navigation Games will provide introductions to orienteering for World Orienteering Day in May, and Girls in Sports Day. We do in-school programs at Morse and VLUS, and teach K-5 kids at Community Schools.
Summary of this fall's learn-to-orienteer program:
CRLS team: 8 students came regularly, including some who would not otherwise participate in sports. Shantu Salvi is the main coach; Rebecca Pearl attended practices in September before starting to coach CSUS in October; Navigation Games donated coaching assistance by Ethan Childs, Violeta Feliciano and Juan Manuel Merida. Practices were held Tues & Thurs afternoons; focusing one day each on navigation and physical fitness. The team attended weekend races put on by the New England Orienteering Club. Five team members raced at a national meet in Lebanon NH in mid-October. Practices were held at various parks around Cambridge.
CSUS team: 16 students were on the team. Rebecca Pearl coached, with volunteer assistance from Violeta Veliciano. Practices were held on Wednesdays for the month of October. Additionally, students on the cross-country team were introduced to orienteering. Here is a link to detailed information about practices from Violeta. Practices were held on the CSUS campus.
PAUS team: Orienteering was one of three days each week of cross-country practice. I believe there were between 15 and 40 students at practices. Ethan Childs and Juan Manuel Merida volunteered to support the coaches for the orienteering training. Practices were held at Hoyt Field, and once on the school grounds.
Amigos team: 26 students, with varying attendance. Ari Ofsevit coached both Tues cross-country and Thurs orienteering practices, with volunteer support from Juan Manuel Merida. Practices were held at Dana Park, Hoyt Field, and in the Amigos gym.
(In addition, Navigation Games worked with Morse & VLUS, provided K-5 classes at 2 Community Schools, and provides individual coaching for elite CRLS orienteers Keegan Harkavy and Vilppu Viinikainen.)
If we can maintain orienteering as a middle school sport, we will have a good pipeline feeding the high school program in future years. Again, the big challenge is to develop local coaches, and build support from parents. Navigation Games will not have volunteers Violeta and Juan Manuel in the spring, so recruitment of coaches and helpers is huge.