Arizona in Focus is a podcast from Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS. Each season we dive deep into a particular topic or story to bring you stories you haven’t heard elsewhere. Check out the rest of our episodes here, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Soundcloud.
As high school athletic programs around the nation lose funding, students who benefit from sports participation suffer. Athletic directors and coaches at Phoenix inner-city schools have strong opinions about the impact they’ve seen sports programs have on their students.
A Kansas High School Athletic Association study showed that students who participate in athletics earn better grades and have higher graduation rates, yet nonprofit Up2Us estimated that 27 percent of schools won’t have any sports by 2020. At inner-city schools, where graduation rates are even lower than suburban schools, these athletic programs are even more vital. For Reyna Caudillo, softball what was kept her in school and earned her a chance at higher education.
For coaches and athletic directors, they realize that it often takes extra work to give these students a chance. Gary Lee and Ernie Cobb, basketball coaches from Cesar Chavez and Alhambra high schools respectively, share their experiences in supporting these students and why it’s so important.