Field scheduling conflicts hinder Jackson-Reed spring sports teams


Noa Gordon, Sports Editor

The coaches of the boys frisbee team, ranked 13th in the nation, are considering quitting due to scheduling conflicts. 

Recurring miscommunication around field use throughout the spring sports season at Jackson-Reed left teams cutting practices and games short. Athletes and coaches have expressed frustration with the issue.

“It’s a pretty draining effect on coaches that might lead us to lose some of our coaches for next year,” ultimate frisbee program head coach Dave Ohls said. Ohls is a professor at American University and schedules his classes around the practice times that were determined at the beginning of the year. 

Ohls added that the scheduling conflicts have an impact on the team. 

“It definitely hurts our ability to compete. We’re a pretty strong team this year,” Ohls said. “We try to establish regular expectations for players.”

Ohls said he had to cancel around eight practices and two games this school year. The frisbee team is not alone in this phenomenon. The football and lacrosse teams also rearranged their practice schedules at the last minute due to overbooking. 

Although Jackson-Reed sports teams use these fields, the fields are rented out by the Department of General Services (DGS). According to Principal Sah Brown, the overbooking of the field is largely due to scheduling miscommunication. 

The scheduling process begins in pre-season, when all coaches put down their preferred practice times. The athletic department then tries to balance the available field time while incorporating DCIAA game schedules. 

According to Assistant Principal Marc Minsker, who oversees athletics, the calendar “is completely balanced across the board in terms of number of clubs, sports versus varsity sports, number of female versus male athletic competitions.”

Jackson-Reed then shares a calendar with DGS for rentals with community groups. Following the transition in athletic directors at Jackson-Reed, community groups who had previously used the field at a set time expected continued use. 

We are really trying to prioritize our [Jackson-Reed] teams over rentals over outside groups, but there are some outside groups on the calendar from last year,” Minsker said. Minsker added that there has been an increase in community groups requesting stadium usage after Mayor Muriel Bowser’s initiative to ensure that community groups have access to public fields. 

Ohls noted that community groups were a reason the team had been double booked. According to the Ensuring Community Access to Recreational Spaces Act of 2018, the issuance of permits prioritizes use beginning with the school facility, followed by DCPS, community use at times designated by the Mayor, and the use of the facility by permit holders.

An unanticipated issue was that although the athletic department thought otherwise, there was no time between the final Jackson-Reed event of the night and the next renters.

This came into play at a JV baseball game, during which the team was losing when it was realized the game would have to end an inning early. Fortunately, Jackson-Reed was able to come back and win. However, players expressed some frustration of having to end early. Pitcher Teddy Benach noted that it would have been more “fun and competitive” to play the full game. 

Parents from the frisbee team had a conversation with the staff of Ward 3 Councilmember Matt Frumin. 

“If needed, we are ready to work with the community to identify and implement legislative changes to make sure our students always have access to adequate athletic space,” Frumin said in a statement to The Beacon. 

“I am committed to working with the Jackson-Reed athletic community, administration and DCPS to ensure that the law prioritizing field access for DCPS teams and activities is followed,” Frumin added. 

Brown also emphasized that the school’s priority is Jackson-Reed sports teams. Minsker expects next year’s process of field scheduling to be “smoother.”