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Lickings Heights to have middle school soccer team for 2024-25 season

Licking Heights Middle School just scored a goal for athletic opportunities — and academic success, too.

Starting in the fall, the school will have their first official soccer team. The team will compete with other local schools for the 2024-25 season.

The team is the result of an intramural, co-ed program created four years ago by special education aide Logan Hamilton. Hamilton said he envisioned the program as a feeder system for the high school team, where students learned the basics of soccer and often got their first experiences playing on a team. The program rapidly grew each year, starting with about 30 students and having close to 70 for the 2023-24 school year.

Hamilton, who attended Licking Heights from kindergarten through 12th grade, started advocating for a middle school soccer team when he was a student.

“As a student, I felt like I didn’t really have something I could be a part of at Licking Heights,” he said. “I didn’t play football, basketball, or baseball, and there wasn’t a club or program that fit what I wanted to do. I grew up playing soccer, and was always wondering why we didn’t have a team.”

Now, as an adult, Hamilton said his focus has expanded to create an inclusive program that both matches student interest and makes students invest into their own education and maturity. About 70% of students participating in the intramural program each school year are Nepali, which is one of the three largest minority populations at Heights.

“While talking to one of our district social workers this year, I had an epiphany that there wasn’t a program or club to hold our Nepali students accountable at the middle and intermediate school level,” he said.

Outside of training strong athletes, Hamilton plans to develop his players into respectful, hardworking, kind young people. Accountability is a major factor in his coaching style, and students are expected to maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average if they want to play soccer. He also works closely with teachers to monitor his students’ classroom behavior.

“One of the biggest lessons students learn in the program is how to be a good human being,” he said. “The only thing I preach to any of my athletes is that I ask for attitude and effort. You can be successful in anything you do with that.”

Ultimately, Hamilton hopes his students have fun on the field and recognize the importance of working hard to accomplish a goal–in sports, school and throughout life.

“If kids have something to work for, it teaches them more about life and the value of working for things you want,” he said. “Sports are not a right, but a privilege. I say that to every single group of students every year in my program.”

Information submitted by Licking Heights Local Schools.

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