High School runners line up

Caption: PSRC middle schoolers will have the ability to compete in their own Track and Field programs in the next academic year. Pictured are high school student-athletes who participated in Cross Country.  In the coming years, the plan is to include the addition of golf and cross country at the middle school level.

LUMBERTON — Middle school students in Robeson County Public Schools will soon be able to participate in Track and Field.

The program for students in grades 6-8 will be put in place in the next academic year.

“It’s definitely been a long time coming,” said former PSRC Athletic Director Jerome Hunt, who retired effective Feb. 28. “We’re adding it because it’s needed by our middle school kids.”


“We are still trying to work out some logistics,” he said.

Those logistics include if the district will offer the sports opportunity to boys and girls in the fall or if the program will be offered first to girls in the fall and next to boys in the spring, he said. The district is still working on logistics relating to who the coaches will be and how students will get to high school tracks to train and compete.

“Track meets will be at high school tracks in the county,” he said.

Students will join the program at their respective schools by contacting athletic directors and track coaches, he said.

Middle school sports expansion

Hunt said he is proud to see the program will be implemented as he exits the role. PSRC Athletic Director Glenn Patterson Sr. plans to take the reins of the program and continue the work Hunt began.

“That was one of my big things coming into this position is to try to increase middle school sports,” Hunt said.

Though the district did face setbacks because of COVID-19, soccer was added last spring to middle school sports offerings and wrestling was offered this fall, Hunt said.

“Everybody needs to be a part of something,” Hunt said. “That (sports team) makes them want to come to school because they know they are a part of something.”

Patterson said he plans to build upon the momentum set forth by Hunt.

“I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Patterson said. “I’m excited and I’m going to try to continue to move the athletic department in a forward manner.”

Patterson and Hunt recall times when they were in school when there were a few sports offerings at the middle school level.

Benefits of middle school sports

But, offering middle school sports like the Track and Field program comprises much more than giving students a sense of belonging and camaraderie that comes with playing on a sports team, according to Hunt and Patterson.

“Everybody is not a football player so it opens this up to kids that might not be as talented at football,” Patterson said.

Offering sports at the middle school level also gives students the chance to build skills they can use to compete at the high school level, Hunt said.

But athletics also plays a role in academics, according to Hunt and Patterson.

“Sports is the key to keeping kids in school,” Patterson said.

“They know they’ve got to come to school and they’ve got to keep their grades up to be a part of that team,” Hunt said.

But, it also helps keep students accountable for their actions and behaviors, Patterson said.

“It teaches them discipline,” he said. “That sports team is going to hold them accountable for behavior in the school day.”

Looking ahead

There is excitement for the program’s expansion to the middle school level among athletic directors, Hunt said.

“We feel like it’s going to be really positive for our school system,” he added.

In the coming years, the plan is to include the addition of golf and cross country at the middle school level, Hunt and Patterson said.