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Lickings Heights to field middle school football team for 2024-25 season

Licking Heights Middle School has achieved a goal in terms of athletic opportunities and academic success.

In the fall, the school will have its first official football team, which 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 assistant Logan Hamilton. Hamilton said he sees the program as a feeder system for the high school team, where students learn the basics of football and often get their first experience playing on a team. The program has grown rapidly each year, starting with about 30 students and growing to close to 70 for the 2023-24 school year.

Hamilton, who attended Licking Heights from kindergarten to 12th grade, began defending a middle school football team while still a student.

“When I was a student, I felt like there wasn’t anything I could really be a part of in 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 football and I always wondered why we didn’t have a team.”

Now, as an adult, Hamilton said his focus has expanded to creating an inclusive program that both fits student interests and allows students to invest in their own education and maturity. About 70% of the students who attend the intramural program each school year are Nepalese, one of the three largest minority populations in the Heights.

“This year, while talking to one of our area social workers, I had an epiphany that there were no programs or clubs at the middle and high school levels that would hold our Nepali students accountable,” she said.

In addition to developing strong athletes, Hamilton plans to develop his players into respectful, hard-working, kind young people. Accountability is a major factor in his coaching style, and students are expected to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA if they want to play football. He also works closely with teachers to monitor his students’ classroom behavior.

“One of the biggest lessons students learn in the program is to be a good person,” he said. “One thing I preach to my athletes is attitude and effort. With that, you can be successful in anything you do.”

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

“When kids have something to work for, it teaches them more about life and the value of working for what they want,” he said. “Sports are a privilege, not a right. I tell that to every group of students in my program every year.”

Information submitted by Licking Heights Local Schools.