View Park high school recently became the National Winner of the Aspen Institute’s Reimagining School Sports in America Initiative, earning a $20,000 grant meant to help them pursue their athletic endeavors.
The Aspen Institute aspires to make physical activities and sports available to all students.
Stuart Krohn, the director of the ICEF Student Leadership Academy, found out about the Aspen Institute and applied on behalf of the high school. View Park offers five intramural programs and 10 interscholastic teams as well as an after school action sports program that teaches youth skateboarding and surfing.
“We do offer the normal sports, but we try to give more students more opportunities to belong to something,” said athletic director David Hughes. “Give the kids a reason to come to school and have a new group of friends.”
The money will help View Park revive their baseball team, lessen travel fees, and provide more coaches to students among other things, according to Hughes. Transportation is the biggest expense for View Park as teams have to be taken round trip to practice sites and home games as well as away games.
“When we find out we have more money and part of the grant is written for transport, I’m like “that’s amazing,”” he said. “Now we can offer more to the students, like more coaches.”
View Park High School is under the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF); the foundation also has three middle schools and three elementary schools. Hughes established intramural tournaments for the middle school students for a myriad of sports, including flag football, flag rugby, volleyball, basketball, and lacrosse.
“It’s a school tournament, there’s no prizes, there’s no trophies, we just get together,” he said. “All of the PE classes are aligned with a tournament at the end of the season of that four-week or six-week season.”
View Park provides sailing lessons through a partnership with UCLA, the college students would teach the high school students how to sail. Krohn established the sailing program by collecting $10,000 in donations from people he knew who owned boats and sails.
“We would bus [students] to Marina Del Ray and they all learned how to sail,”Hughes said. “Now we have a sailing program that is every year.”
View Park coach Lisa Finegan applied for a grant through the organization Stoked that teaches high school students how to surf, snowboard and skateboard. Hughes noted how he had received positive feedback about the program from students.
“Some of the kids have signed up for that and not the kids that traditionally sign up for football or basketball or track,” he said. “It’s been really great to be able to offer something different for other kids that want to be part of a team.”
The athletic program has rose to prominence since the schools’ inception. Rugby players Kimorri Boozer and Jeremiah Johnson became members of the LA Alliance Student Empowerment Program last year.
“They’re getting such a great experience with the Alliance,” Hughes said. “There’s a lot of mentorship and classes they go to online to learn about careers in sport and mental health.”
The View Park Rugby program has traveled to four different continents. The boys basketball team won five City Section championships and one CIF State Title and the softball team won three City Section Titles.