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The Waitsburg Times:

Jubilee Athletes Making Huge Contributions

PRESCOTT – Jubilee Youth Ranch students have been participating in WP sports for about six years now and the school is planning to expand its offerings to possibly three sports for the upcoming fall season – football, cross country and soccer.

Not only will this provide a wider variety for the Jubilee athletes in sports activities, but it means WP coaches may have more talent on their hands than ever before.

Mark Hauck, the student activities and athletics director at Jubilee Youth Ranch, said participating in sports gives the Jubilee athletes life skills, improves their self worth and self confidence.

"They're learning how to work together," Hauck said. "We used to have issues of keeping kids committed to sports. Not we have issues trying to get kids to sports."

Jubilee Youth Ranch was created in 1995 and is a Christian residential program for boys ages 14 through 18. It is located about 30 minutes west of the city of Prescott near the Snake River. The students who attend have self-defeating behaviors such as low self esteem, depression, substance abuse, oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit disorder, school failure or family conflict, according to the school's website.

Students who attend school at the ranch undergo rigorous academics and participate in counseling.

WP Athletic Director JP Thew said Jubilee Ranch students began participating on WP teams about six years ago. The Jubilee athletes can play on WP teams because the school is technically part of the Prescott School District. Thew said some Jubilee students even take classes at Prescott High School.

In the early days of their participation, the Jubilee students who earned the privilege to play sports were limited to one sport and only 10 could participate because that was how many seats were available in the van, Thew said. Also, it was a rule that students from the ranch had to have a supervisor at all times.

Football was the first sport the Jubilee students were able to play, and then basketball, track and baseball were added to the repertoire. Hauck said the numbers of Jubilee athletes really started to grow three years ago. This track and baseball season was the first season the athletes were able to participate in two sports in one season. Thew said the ranch got a bigger vehicle and was able to haul the athletes back and forth for practice.

"That was an experiment and I think it went fairly well," Thew said.

This fall, instead of only being allowed to participate in football, Jubilee students will likely be able to choose from all three fall sports – football, soccer and cross country.

"We want to give the kids an opportunity to compete in sports and get off the ranch," Hauck said.

Head football and track coach Jeff Bartlow for football he will have between six and seven Jubilee football players return to the team, which he said has never happened before.

"We have had (Jubilee) kids on this team since 2007," Bartlow said. "Not one time have they come back for the junior or senior years. That was a bit frustrating as you want to plan ahead for kids and put them in spots where they will grow as a player and you can plan on their return. But, after the third year they were not returning and so we were concerned."

Bartlow said this is a huge concern for him because he focuses on building his sports programs and creating talented, confident athletes who will perform better and better through high school.

The team doesn't benefit as much if the previous athletes don't return with their skills the next year.

"This year, however, is different," Bartlow said. "In fact, I really think we are turning the corner on this concept. The kids at (Jubilee) are buying in more and wanting to return as we have been so successful in both track and football."

Over the past two years, Hauck said 41 Jubilee students have participated on WP sports teams and 35 of those athletes have earned their high school diploma or finished an entire year of schooling at the ranch.

Hauck said participating in sports is generating some really positive results in Jubilee students. He said he is seeing his students step up as leaders and are building positive relationships with coaches like Bartlow, football and track, and TJ Scott, basketball.

"Regarding behavior, they are like any kid on the team," Bartlow said. "There have not been any real problems. (Hauck) and I stay in contact and communicate very well and I know what is going on with his kids. They have had some problems, but realistically no bigger or worse than any of our (WP) kids over the last few years. Discipline is what the kids need and they get that at (Jubilee) and then they get that at practice and in games with the WP combine. This program is huge and complements what they are trying to do out at (Jubilee)."

Hauck is happy to boast that his Jubilee athletes are varsity players and earn all-league hon­ors. Six Jubilee athletes earned the title of scholar athlete this year, Hauck said, and three earned a 4.0 GPA last quarter.

James Thompkins is a veteran track star for WP who competed in four events at state this year, following in the footsteps of his brother Antonio, who was also a WP track star. James Thompkins was also named the Most Valuable Player for track this year. Roy Ebong was Most Improved. Jacob Cantuna won districts this year in the javelin.

Kevin Glover, who competes in track and plays basketball, was a scholar athlete for both seasons. And for this years WP football team, veterans Ebong and Sterling Eastman, both from Jubilee, are expected to help WP earn another state title. Seven seniors total from Jubilee will help fill the ranks for the Cardinals on the field this fall.

Hauck said Eastman, who was named Prescott High School male athlete of the Year, may even be filling Zach Bartlow's shoes as quarterback next fall.

Bartlow said he and the other football coaches saw Eastman had talent in throwing the football. "He played behind quarterback Zach Bartlow for a year and learned the system and we have him in a spot where he could become the starting quarterback very easily," Bartlow said. "He and Dalton Estes just completed spring football and both really looked very good and I can see them both playing at that spot."

And this fall, if the staff gives the green light, Hauck plans to offer soccer and cross country as options for his students.

One new student from Chicago will be joining the WP cross country camp on June 25. The potential for more runners makes cross country coach Joanna Lanning thrilled.

"This could make a huge difference in us being very competitive at state," Lanning said.

She hopes the option of cross country will bring out enough new Jubilee runners to create a solid team of five with some alternates.

Lanning said she found out at the end of the track season that Jubilee athletes may be joining her team and she said she hopes to have more athletes with different ability levels.

"The more the better and the stronger we can make the program," Lanning said.

And the additional sports options might not only come in the fall – Hauck is looking at adding wrestling to winter season, which he is sure will have a huge impact to WP programs.

Thew said he is happy to provide the opportunity to be on a team for the Jubilee students, who wouldn't have been able to have the experience otherwise. He also believes getting students involved in extracurricular activities like sports benefit them in many ways – on and off the field.

Bartlow said himself, the other coaches and the Jubilee staff feel the same way.

"It is a huge blessing and a privilege to work with kids, regardless of who they are, where they come from or what their history is all about," Bartlow said. "I really feel (the Jubilee athletes) have enriched our teams and enriched our PHS and WHS kids. They certainly have made an impact on me that has been positive. I am more than fine with these kids. Our kids get along with them and are just a part of the football and track family we try to create. They fit right in and even take on nicknames and are a part of the team culture that we try to create. Just a real positive thing in my mind and worth the extra effort it does take to pull it off."

Hauck said he's happy with the number of his students participating who are doing well and meeting the challenges of being on a team. The Jubilee athletes have to meet academic requirements to participate just like the Waitsburg and Prescott high school students.

"Three years ago, because of numerous reasons, we had only a couple of kids make it (through a sports season)," he said. "It has been an amazing ride."

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