Rutherford Expanding Their Athletic Program

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 6:31 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Rutherford Rams are expanding their athletic program from within their school. Thanks to Hurricane Michael, Everitt Middle School was shut down, so some 700 6th, 7th and 8th graders were moved to Rutherford High School. For those middle schoolers to compete, well they had to do so at the high school level, but starting in the fall, that’s no longer the case!

“We’re excited to announce that this year, for ‘23-’24, we will be offering sports to our middle schoolers and that is something that a lot of students have wanted to participate in and a lot of parents have been requesting that as well. This year we did an interest survey with our middle school students and their families and we had over 300 students that did show an interest in wanting to participate strictly with other middle schools”, said Rutherford Middle School Principle Crystal Boyette.

That 300 number roughly forty percent of the middle schoolers there. They’ll get the chance now to compete in football and volleyball in the fall. Boys and girls basketball, boys and girls track in the spring. A big plus in terms of the economics of it all, for the most part, there’s no need for any extra facilities!

“The sports that we’ve chosen to add this year will be able to utilize Vera Shamplain facilities that we have already have in place.” said Jabbar Manning, Rutherford’s Athletic Director. “As well as being able to utilize our gym for boys and girls basketball ball and then the middle school track meets are held at Tommy Oliver, so all of the facilities we kind of have in place already”

Manning adds though there will need to be some upgrade at Shamplain to accommodate one sport. “The district has been instrumental in helping us get Vera Shamplain set up for football, so we’re getting our goal posts added and they should be added this summer. We’re looking for some bleachers but we are definitely confident that we will have all the facilities ready. The St. Joe Foundation has been instrumental in helping us get the start up funding, in helping us bridge that gap.”

“The district is supporting us and Coach Manning has been working on grants as well as so we’re very confident that we’re going to be able to roll this out and that our middle schools will have everything they need and be successful competing with their age group.” Boyette added.

The Rutherford girls basketball team has had some star players who began as middle schoolers, but that’s rare, now as the Principal says, the Rutherford kids will be able to compete against other middle schoolers starting in August.