'It's transformational': Spring Branch youth sports program helps students impacted during pandemic

Gina Gaston Image
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Spring Branch sports program helps school district retain students
Spring Branch ISD is calling on Spring Branch Memorial Sports Association to help them get students back in the classroom after COVID-19.

HEDWIG VILLAGE, Texas (KTRK) -- Schools in the Houston community are trying to recruit students to return to the classroom after so many disappeared during the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a challenge all over the country, but Spring Branch Independent School District is calling on a long-time partner to help them with this issue.

In Spring Branch, more than 100 kids are on the field on a hot August early evening, trying to get faster so that they will be better at football, tennis, basketball or any other sport that requires quick feet. But, for K.C. Miralrio, his mom says she didn't sign him up for Spring Branch Memorial Sports Association, or SBMSA, just to help his football performance.

"It made him who he is today. Now, I get him to study more to be on track for school work. He wants to get up every day now because we tell him you could be the best one out there, but if you don't have your academics right you aren't playing," Chasidy Miralrio said.

Spring Branch ISD lost about 5% of students during COVID, which is not as many students as some other local districts lost. Still, the district did not want the students to drop out or to lose the younger students who lost important years of instruction.

"I think it's transformational," said Paige Hershey, the SBISD executive director of athletics. "I think kids see themselves differently when they have other people in the community who are rallying around them."

Hershey and other district leaders said they wanted to see kids north of Interstate 10, where resources are tighter, exposed to all the district's sports early and get families to know each other.

"When they have an opportunity to come together and play sports, now they know each other and they are more apt to rally around the school and become part of the PTA," Hershey said.

SBMSA football director Chris Thompson said the program that began in the 1960s is seeing a record number of participants.

"COVID actually helped SBMSA. Being able to offer sports, work through those guidelines, being able to still participate in sports, our numbers throughout all programs grew and are still growing," Thompson said.

Brenda Reza said her rising sixth grader Rico was having anger issues and was misbehaving in school, but not since his SBMSA success.

"He started to get more back in the game, more focused on football and it did impact (him) school-wise," Reza said. "He was excited. His grades came back home, he started to stay for tutorials, he started inviting his teachers to his games. I've seen a really big difference."

"It taught me manners and discipline," Rico said.

The district hopes the partnership continues to help them reach students because victories in any arena or field are good for kids' confidence and self-discovery.

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