WOODLAND — Woodland Public Schools seeks to engage student interests both in and out of school by providing a wide variety of unique clubs and teams. Over the past five years, two teams, in particular, the Woodland High School equestrian team and trapshooting team, have gained a wide following of students resulting in great success.
Woodland High School’s equestrian and trap teams started in 2012 after school administrators asked students what sorts of activities they would participate in.
“We wanted to offer extracurricular activities different from traditional sports to appeal to a wider variety of our students,” explained Paul Huddleston, Woodland Public School’s athletic director. “We have mainstream sports covered, but there were so many students walking the halls who weren’t involved.”
Two community members, Jolene Johnson and Ben Musgrove, volunteered to coach the teams with Johnson coaching the equestrian team and Musgrove taking on coaching duties for the Trap Team.
“Neither coaches are school employees with the district providing support by offering places for the teams to meet, advertise and promote their teams,” explained Huddleston. “The district provides no financial assistance with both teams running their own fundraising to support their activities.”
Woodland High School’s equestrian team
In order to start the equestrian Team, Huddleston and Johnson relied on the Washington High School Equestrian Teams (WAHSET) association to provide insight and guidance.
“WAHSET was incredibly helpful guiding us to create the team for the school and also with ways to adhere to their standards and guidelines,” said Huddleston.
Currently, more than a dozen students participate on the equestrian team with Johnson continuing to provide coaching duties. This year, the team qualified for the regional competition where the top teams from each state meet competed against the equivalent teams in Oregon. Woodland High School’s Equestrian Team received the High-Point Medium School District Trophy for accumulating the most points average over the number of events.
“This is the first time since the team’s inception when the team has won the trophy,” said Johnson. “We had a spectacular year.”
Johnson started coaching the team when her daughter asked her to take it on. Fundraising continues to be one of the biggest challenges for the team.
“Operating a team without school funding means a lot of fundraisers and parent assistance,” explained Johnson. “We try to do two rummage sales a year and also come up with other creative fundraising ideas.”
Many people don’t understand how equestrian teams compete since traditional sports are more in the mainstream consciousness.
“One of the biggest challenges we face as a team is getting people to understand what WAHSET is all about,” said Johnson. “Just getting to the first meet event requires a lot of practice, but once team members compete at the first meet, everything makes sense and they love it.”
Johnson finds inspiration to continue coaching from the rewarding experiences she has while coaching the team.
“I love seeing the smiles and happiness coming from a rider when they finish their event knowing they did a great job,” said Johnson. “Having all that time and effort come together shows how hard work can really pay off.”
Woodland High School’s trapshooting team
Like WAHSET for the equestrian team, Huddleston and coach Musgrove relied on assistance from associations that oversee high school trapshooting teams to establish safety protocols and guidelines. Musgrove volunteered to coach the trap team after Huddleston contacted him.
“The high school wanted to provide other opportunities for our youth rather than conventional sports,” explained Musgrove. “There had been some conversations about the possibility of creating such a team, but it was really Paul’s prodding and dedication which resulted in the creation of this unique team in Woodland.”
The trap team also presented a few new challenges as students use firearms to shoot targets in a variety of events.
“Since firearms are involved, we had to develop strict protocols involving safety and conduct with guns never being permitted on school grounds, including the parking lots, in any manner,” explained Huddleston. “Each student takes safety training with parents required to attend mandatory meetings – we rigorously scrutinize every element of the team’s practices regularly to ensure students and everyone involved are completely safe.”
With trapshooting requiring a lot of financial investment as team members must practice extensively and purchase a lot of equipment and supplies, the team makes fundraising a top priority with local businesses providing the lion’s share of financial assistance.”Woodland is blessed because we have a local business, Kick Ezz, who is a nationally-renowned maker of gun and shotgun recoil pads where Dave Poppe and his group have taken our team under their wing to provide the team with a great deal of financial support,” explained Musgrove. “Additionally, a national group called the Midway USA Foundation provides items at no-cost which we raffle off to generate funds.”
“Woodland is blessed because we have a local business, Kick Ezz, who is a nationally-renowned maker of gun and shotgun recoil pads where Dave Poppe and his group have taken our team under their wing to provide the team with a great deal of financial support,” explained Musgrove. “Additionally, a national group called the Midway USA Foundation provides items at no-cost which we raffle off to generate funds.”
Musgrove finds helping students find inspiration for lives provides him with the most reward.
“Knowing I am providing an opportunity for students to find something that means everything to them drives me to succeed and coach the best I can,” he explained. “I have 16 kids who eat, sleep, and breathe trap shooting and seeing the pride in our varsity team win the state title felt amazing!”
The future of Woodland Public Schools’ activities
Huddleston and Woodland Public Schools continues to look for new activities to offer for students to become more involved in after-school clubs and teams, both athletic and interest-based.
“Is there any better preparation for life after high school than competing, learning teamwork, and, perhaps most importantly, learning how not to win?” asked Huddleston. “We grow the most when we have to overcome adversity and learning to graciously handle losing goes a long way to that – don’t get me wrong, I like to win, too!”
For more information on these teams or other extracurricular activities including how you can volunteer or provide other means of support, contact Athletic Director Paul Huddleston at (360) 841-2800, ext.2889 or via email at email@example.com.