The Conway Public School District has four middle schools, all named in honor of distinguished local educators.
The four schools are Carl Stuart, Ruth Doyle, Bob and Betty Courtway and Ray and Phyllis Simon.
Kids start playing school-sponsored sports in their final year of middle school, which is seventh grade. Sports offered for boys are football, basketball and track. For the girls, it is volleyball, basketball and track.
Middle school football season just wrapped up. My son played for Carl Stuart. He learned a lot this season, and more importantly, he had a lot of fun.
The four Conway teams, of course, play each other.
Many of the kids from the different schools know each other, maybe from church or from previous youth sports.
Nowadays, they also are just as likely to develop relationships from online gaming or social media like Instagram.
They also played teams from Cabot, Russellville, Morrilton, Greenbrier and Vilonia.
The four Conway teams had a really good year against the out of town competition, going a collective 15-4-1.
However, let’s don’t crown them 2023 7A state champions just yet, but there are quite a few really talented kids out there.
I want to give a special mention to the middle school coaches; they don’t get a lot of recognition, but they play a very important role.
This is where kids start to figure out what, if any, sports they enjoy.
For some of these kids, it is their first exposure to organized team sports.
A lot of basics and fundamentals are taught.
The coaches want to win, but they know that their job is more than that at this level.
It is about teaching and instilling confidence, discipline and work ethic.
The football coaches are: Steven Moore and Barry Lueders at Carl Stuart, Chance Lefler and Tommy McMillan at Ruth Doyle, Brad Wood and Nick Harrell at Courtway, John Erstine and Joey Moon at Simon.
After football is done, Moore, Lefler, Wood and Erstine will coach basketball, then track.
Each middle school has one coach for the girls’ programs. They are Rhonda Holloway, Jennifer Lea, Cheryl Bing and Sharon Bradley.
Each of these ladies coaches volleyball, basketball and track.
This past Monday, Carl Stuart and Courtway met on the final night of the football season for the unofficial city middle school championship.
Courtway was undefeated at 7-0. Stuart was 6-1, their only blemish a close loss to one of Cabot’s teams.
Both teams had gone 2-0 against the other Conway schools.
In the season finale, Carl Stuart came out on top 14-6 to claim seventh grade bragging rights.
In eighth grade, they will start to become teammates.
In junior high, the four middle schools combine into two teams. Simon and Stuart form the white team, while Courtway and Doyle make up the blue.
And of course a couple of years after that, the blue and white will join and they all will become Conway High School Wampus Cats.