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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Larry Hurd ushers a new era of athletics

Athletic+Specialist+Larry+Hurd+recognizes+senior+golf+players+on+their+senior+night+at+Needwood+golf+course.+The+image+was+posted+via+%40wjwildcatathletics+on+Instagram.+I+think+that+having+a+social+media+influence+and+being+able+to+highlight+our+athletes+and+teams+all+the+time+is+meaningful+to+the+experience+of+the+students+and+it+keeps+everyone+in+the+community+involved%2C+Hurd+said.
Photo courtesy Larry Hurd
Athletic Specialist Larry Hurd recognizes senior golf players on their senior night at Needwood golf course. The image was posted via @wjwildcatathletics on Instagram. “I think that having a social media influence and being able to highlight our athletes and teams all the time is meaningful to the experience of the students and it keeps everyone in the community involved,” Hurd said.

In his inaugural year as Athletic Specialist, Larry Hurd has wasted no time in instituting changes to the athletic structure at our school through new county wide regulations and his own personal goals. New measures from MCPS include stringent rules on the appropriateness of music played during games and a stricter attendance policy. Alongside these policies Hurd has also been playing a more active role in the athletic community. Through social media posts and sending out weekly newsletters, he’s been able to have a very successful jumpstart in his new role.

One notable change came in the form of a new music system. MCPS recently purchased a software, one in which all music is run through to ensure that songs played during athletic events align with the school’s standards. The software not only filters language but also the subject matter of the songs. The intention is to maintain an environment that is conducive to the values and principles of the educational institution.

“The big part of the music is that when you’re at a big event, it’s not just the student athletes. It’s the children, it’s the parents, it’s the grandparents and we have to make sure the music is appropriate for everybody,” Hurd said. “The county came to me saying we should utilize Neptune, a company that makes a music machine that we send to captains of sports teams who go on the machine and choose appropriate music.”

The new system has made it difficult for students to select the songs they desire for their warm-ups but many understand the importance of the policy.

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“Coach Hurd has been very careful with his music choice; It has been difficult to select songs but it is definitely for the better since it makes sure we have a happy environment at Wildcat stadium,” senior boys soccer varsity captain Sunjay Bista said.
Additionally, Hurd has been enforcing stricter policies regarding attendance. Students are now required to attend all their classes on game days to be eligible to participate in athletic events.

“We’ve put a system into place with coach Fitzpatrick that sends out attendance and grades to coaches. The system determines if a student is eligible to participate,” Hurd said, “All players must go to every class every day, if you miss one period unexcused you have to miss [the next athletic event].”

The attendance policy has proved to be an issue for many teams. Although it can be challenging for students to go to every class, it does allow students to maintain accountability and creates responsible student athletes.

“Last Wednesday there were 18 players that couldn’t practice due to attendance issues, most of them were starters. It hurt us but I understand the rule. We are student-athletes, being a student comes first,” senior football captain Nick Zampardi said.
Hurd emphasizes that these policy adjustments are made with the desire of enhancing the athletic experience for students while upholding the values and standards of the school. By prioritizing attendance, Hurd aims to create an enjoyable experience where students are able to develop as athletes and scholars alike.

Every athletic director in the county is instructed to create their own “raise enhancement plan”. Hurd’s plan consists of improving the communication in our community within the athletics department.

“Part of my plan is to develop communication with my student athletes and the community. Our social media is one way that I have been able to do this. It gets our student athletes out there and makes sure our community is aware of the incredible things student athletes and coaches are doing,” Hurd said.

Hurd’s commitment to ensuring communication between our athletes goes beyond social media.

“Additionally, something I’ve tried to do is create a weekly newsletter that goes to the PTSA listserv, it goes on the website,” Hurd said.

Overall, Hurd has been able to create an atmosphere where student athletes are in a position to have the best experience possible.

“I love Walter Johnson, I bleed green, I want to see every single team succeed. I want to get every team whatever they need to be successful. We have an unbelievable group of student athletes that work extremely hard year round and I see it as my job to do anything and everything I can do to make sure the athletes can be the best they can be,” Hurd said.

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Ian Alves
Ian Alves, Staff Writer
Senior Ian Alves is excited to participate in his first year with the Pitch as a Staff Writer. In addition to writing for the pitch, Ian enjoys scuba diving and playing soccer.
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    Mary HurdOct 20, 2023 at 8:32 pm

    Great job by a man very dedicated to his students, parents and coaches!!

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