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by Robert DeVore, Springfield

As I am finishing up my time as a public school dad and parent, I have witnessed some amazing athletic talent by Nixa, Republic, Ozark, Central, and, of course, Kickapoo. I was a Neosho grad, and our running joke in our time was that we would have to get through our district and conference to go get beat by Springfield.

Now, in Springfield, it is the same idea to get through the area of Springfield schools to eventually get beat by Kansas City or St. Louis teams, which is fine. The old mantra still stands: There is always someone out there bigger and stronger.

What I have a problem with is schools that can recruit with scholarships. Believe me, EVERY quality school recruits to their town if they are any good at anything. But watching that Incarnate Word girls basketball team (of St. Louis) now has a 131-game win streak with consistent D1 talent is what has to stop for the public schools. They have a system in place for their class to bump up to the next class, but what happens when you are in Class 6? No high school program should win 131 games in a row. Marshfield and Strafford have had great runs. Again, HATS off to those programs. That is crazy.

But watching any public school try to compete with higher paid coaches, that ALL they have to do is coach basketball IS an advantage. Being able to offer athletes scholarships IS an advantage, even if partial. Usually, those schools have nicer facilities, which IS an advantage. Academy high schools have their own playoffs. They can play anyone in the regular season, as can public schools, but what matters to everyone is the state playoffs.

Private schools should have their own playoff system, too. I watched Nixa boys play against a private school and play their hearts out. They should have a state championship. I watched Kickapoo girls' basketball play private schools in the semis and championship, again, they should have more championships.

Anyone who knows me knows I love watching great athletes and teams regardless of gender. These past four years, I have been honored to watch some amazing athletes at Springfield area schools. Just sad to see them not have more trophies because of the system. The state of Missouri really needs to reevaluate the system and do what is right for those kids that stay with their public schools and DO NOT go to Incarnate Word, Link, or wherever may be offering them to leave. If it is more of a level playing field, they may decide to decline that offer. They may not. But let's make it a harder choice; otherwise, the Link Academy's and Incarnate Word's of the world will continue to weaken your local sports teams.