SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- Experts say students who are involved in school activities do better in the classroom, and are more likely to succeed in life.
Now for the first time, Sioux City public middle schools will have eighth grade volleyball and football. Eighth grade boys from North and East middle schools hit the grid iron this afternoon.
Many of the players don't realize the significance of their first game, but they are making history.
"It's kind of exciting. We've coached these boys for 5 years, us dads and it's kind of tough to let go but it's something that needed to happen and it's a history game today," parent Matt Ard.
Eighth grade football had most recently been run by Sioux City Youth Football. Sixth and seventh still play for SCYF, but eighth grade football is now run by the district, something that hasn't happened since the middle schools were junior high schools.
"Back when I went here to Hayworth, it was so exciting and it's nice to see it's finally brought back to the area. My son is playing this year and it's nice to see him playing for once," said parent Tom Poznanski.
"It prepares them so much for high school," said Sheila Wilkerson.
"I've wanted middle school athletics since I got on the board. And I think many of us had, I just don't know if we had the resources to do that," said School Board Member Nancy Mounts.
Some players are aware of the significance and others are not. But all are ready to play football.
"It's fun and I love football," said one player.
"East wants to win and it's fun," said another.
"We'd like to have more, go down to the lower grades like 6th and 7th and so forth," said Mounts.
Since the community is so supportive of this new venture, school officials are hopeful it'll be around for years to come.
School board member Nancy Mounts says private donations were a big help to make middle school athletics a reality.