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Giving kids a chance to play

Current members include Pinecrest, Legacy, Trinity, Santa Clarita Christian

Posted: April 19, 2009 9:43 p.m.
Updated: April 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.
In order to engage in interscholastic sports, students at local elementary private schools used to have to drive down to the San Fernando Valley.

Between the traffic and pulling kids out of class early, the hassle became too much to endure.

So Dustin Cleaver, a physical education teacher at Pinecrest School, did something about it.

"He contacted all the private schools in the area and said, ‘Hey, we're tired of driving down to the valley to do sporting competitions," says Matt Jackson, the principal at Legacy Christian Academy. "We want to do something locally."

What resulted was the Santa Clarita Valley Private School League.

"It took a couple months to get everybody on the same page," Cleaver says. "We've been going for two years with this (San Fernando Valley) league. You know what? Enough's enough."

Participants in the SCVPSL currently include Pinecrest, Legacy, Trinity Classical Academy and Santa Clarita Christian School. Our Lady of Perpetual Help School is awaiting approval for entrance into the league.

"Basically what we're trying to do is to get OLPH involved with basketball and football, which I believe they're willing to do but don't have numbers," Jackson says.

Students in fourth, fifth or sixth grade are eligible to compete, and the schools compete in flag football during the fall, basketball during the winter and soccer during the spring.

The league also held a one-day volleyball tournament in November, and the schools are talking about adding a track meet. Legacy and Trinity are also holding a friendly swimming competition later this spring.

"It's particularly good to compete against other schools in the area, because it builds camaraderie," Cleaver says. "It gives them a lot of different options in the community. There is that kind of family atmosphere."

The schools charge fees to pay for things such as jerseys, usage of local facilities and referee costs. The fees range from $100 to $120 for a season.

But Jackson says the experience of athletic competition and being on a team is immeasurable for youngsters.

"It shows hard work pays off," he says. "You learn to work with other people for a common goal. I really find that competition and learning how to be a gracious winner is highly important, and in the same breath, in life there are going to be disappointments, and learning how to deal with those disappointments with class and dignity (is important)."

As the SCVPSL looks to add more schools, it also looks to expand its athlete demographic.

"I wouldn't be opposed to stretching it to first, second or third graders," Jackson says. "We've stuck with upper-elementary because developmentally they're more ready to experience the teamwork, the winning, the losing."

The league has already provided a convenient athletic outlet for local private schools.

With the way the Santa Clarita Valley is growing, Cleaver believes the league will thrive.

"Santa Clarita is a hotbed," he says. "It helps the parents out to have a competitive sport and a well-rounded education all in one facility."


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