Out And About With Jim-Tim Thomsen, Director of Athletics and Activities with the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District – Full Interview

Sumner Bonney Lake school district logo

Series of questions with Jim Clifford of Washington Realty Group and Tim Thomsen, Director of Athletics and Activities with the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District.

Director of Athletics, Activities and Facility Scheduling- Sumner Bonney Lake School District
Tim Thomsen
Email: [email protected]

Phone Number
(253) 891-5555

It is the responsibility of the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District to maximize equitable opportunities for students to achieve athletic success.

Full Interview:
Jim: [00:00:00] It’s my, a pleasure today to be able to introduce to everyone Mr. Tim Thomsen, who is the director of athletic activities and facility scheduling in the Sumner Bonney Lake school district. So, Hey Tim, can you give us an idea, the size of the Sumner – Bonney Lake school district is, both in students and faculty and staff?

[00:00:36] Tim: [00:00:36] You bet. We have we’re, you know, just to give you some round numbers, we’re right around 10,000 students now. And which has changed quite a bit over the years and, and we’re probably right around 1500 staff when you count everybody. And that includes, you know, the teachers, the administration, bus drivers, custodians, maintenance, people, you know, the whole the whole staff.

[00:01:07] Jim: [00:01:07] Well, that’s a lot larger than I remember it being. So that’s, that’s amazing. Your two high schools, how many junior highs?

[00:01:16] Tim: [00:01:16] We have actually three middle schools. Our, our configuration has changed, that, when we opened Bonney Lake high school in 2005, we went from a, a 10 through 12 high school format to a 9 through 12. And then changed from a junior high format to a middle school format. So we’re, we’re grade 6 through 8 at the middle schools and a 9 through 12 at the high schools.

[00:01:42] Jim: [00:01:42] Okay. And how many elementary schools?

[00:01:46] Tim: [00:01:46] And we’re at nine now. So 9 elementries. Yeah. Three middle schools and two high schools.

[00:01:52] Jim: [00:01:52] Yeah, that is huge. So you’re an executive member of the WIAA and for those of us who don’t have kids in school and sports, what is WIAA and how does that help you with the Sumner school district?

[00:02:10] Tim: [00:02:10] Well, the, the the WIAA is stands for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, and it’s our state organization for athletics and activities. It governs and sets the rules, sets the seasons for for everything and is, is highly involved in all of the culminating events, the tournament’s, state championships, that kind of thing.

[00:02:37] And when you’ve been around, as long as I have, you ended up having opportunities to serve. And so I’ve been serving on their executive board for this actually my seventh year. And It’s pretty challenging year as everything is in 2020. And this happened to me the year that it was my turn to serve as the president of the board.

[00:03:01] So currently I’m the only president of the WI board that hasn’t had a single game played during my reign. And we hope we change that here in the, in the future for sure.

[00:03:14] Jim: [00:03:14] Okay. So. Obviously you believe in sports activities and stuff. How do you think that that helps students as far as their ability with getting better grades and going on to college or university?

[00:03:33] Tim: [00:03:33] Well, you know, it really has to do with your, your focus and your philosophy and for, really, as long as I’ve been here, we, we have been focusing on character development as our number one priority in all of our programs. We teach citizenship, we teach leadership, we teach teamwork. We, we teach how hard work, you know, can help you achieve your goals.

[00:04:03] And pretty much anything that will help a student become successful in whatever area. That they pursue and obviously academically that has helped our students. The students that we have that are involved in athletics and activities typically have about 20% higher achievement in GPA’s as, as one measurement test scores, et-cetera, then the people that are the students that don’t participate.

[00:04:38] And athletics and activities. So it’s very significant in our school district, the success rate of our student athletes and the students that are involved in our activities.

[00:04:48] Jim: [00:04:48] So what, what are your numbers, your roughly, what are your numbers? As far as student athletes getting into colleges and universities?

[00:05:00] Tim: [00:05:00] Well, we, we in, in general, our student athletes have a higher rate of college I’m going to college. They have a higher rate of again, GPA’s test scores, et-cetera, than our then students that aren’t involved. And so, you know, we, we we track our graduation rates very closely here, and you’ve probably heard of our.

[00:05:28] Of our goal in the school district of a hundred percent graduation, we’re not going to leave a single kid behind in the Sumner – Bonney Lake School District. And certainly our athletes are pulling their weight. With the graduation rate, we it’s very, very rare to ever have an athlete or a student involved in activities, not graduate from Sumner or Bonney Lake high school.

[00:05:50] And so we’re, we’re at 99% with those students. And as far as going on to college you know, the, the district as a whole I don’t know the exact percentage, but the district as a whole has been very successful in, in moving forward. And, you know, we don’t, like most schools there’s a very small percentage in reality of students that get college scholarships to play athletics, we’re probably at about two or 3% of all of our athletes that do that, which is across the country is, is about the same.

[00:06:28] However, we have a lot of students that do participate in college. Because at the division two, division three, NAI level, there are opportunities that may not come with scholarships, but we have students because they just love to participate. They see the value in that, in benefiting them as, you know, social, emotionally and their character, et- cetera, that they want to continue.

[00:06:51] So we actually have a pretty high percentage of our athletes. They get to continue on and participate in in athletics, in college. But just in general, You know, developing that character pins to make kids goal oriented. And so we have a lot of our student athletes that are really focused on the success in later life going on to college.

[00:07:15] And they are very successful. There were of our graduating all of our graduates, but our graduating student athletes, for sure.

[00:07:26] Jim: [00:07:26] So if a person or a family or a group of people we’re moving to the Sumner, Bonney Lakes area. And as far as the school district was concerned, what do you, what are the, how easy is it for their kids to start to participate in the activities, to the, the athletics and activities in the school district?

[00:07:54] Tim: [00:07:54] Well, I really appreciate that question. You know, part of you know, the evolution of the Sumner – Bonney Lake School District is developing opportunities early. We have a recreation department that’s run through the city of Bonney Lake. We have a YMCA, that we have a number of outside organizations from little leagues, Mount Rainier, a soccer club.

[00:08:16] We have rugby organizations. We have lacrosse organizations, we have volleyball opportunities. We have a lot of basketball opportunities. So we like to get kids a taste of participation at an early age as early as a first or second grade. We even have peewees, you know, are they, the kids are, are, kindergarten or even younger.

[00:08:41] And and just, you know, getting a broad range of experience or kids, you know, get a taste of it. There are some competitive, very competitive youth programs in our community, but we, we really focus on trying to get as many kids involved as possible and trying to find out ways to equitably allow for those opportunities.

[00:09:07] So whether it’s helping with with fees to get in or whatever, we really try and get as many, as many kids from every social economic status involved. And then as they actually enter our programs, which are programs started at the middle school. Then we start to, again we have no cut programs.

[00:09:32] We try and keep the costs very low and kids are going to be you know, surrounded by very positive adults that are focused on their success, not just as an athlete, but in the classroom and in their character development. And as they move up, you know, they end up becoming you know, they enjoy it.

[00:09:57] And so they continue on, we have a lot of multi-sport athletes at the high school level. It just is a, is an indication of how we’ve created that love for participation. Our two high schools, we have a three-day high school and Bonnie Lake and a four day high school in Sumner high school. And they are in a couple of the more competitive leagues in the state.

[00:10:19] They’ll have every opportunity you need to, to, be successful and they have successful teams. We have a very strong teams. We have comprehensive sports programs. So just about anything that a kid would want to participate in from swimming and cross country and tennis and golf, and there’s all of the the major ones, volleyball, basketball, football, soccer, et-cetera.

[00:10:46] Baseball, fast pitch. I mean, we, we, we really provide comprehensive offering of sports. And so, so kids can do whatever they want to and we, we take a lot of pride in, in the training that we give our coaches and again, the focus on character. And then the other thing I’d like to say is that we have really fantastic facilities.

[00:11:10] The school board, the community. have been very supportive in passing bond issues. We’re just about to open our third middle school, turf in all weather track facility at Mountain View Middle School Lakeridge Middle School, and Sumner Middle School have, have turf and all-weather track facilities.

[00:11:33] And in Lakeridge and Mountain View, we’ll also have, very modern LED lighting system so that we can utilize those facilities. Our indoor facilities are also top-notch. We host playoff games at Bonnie Lake High School. We’re a regional wrestling site. Sunset Chev Stadium, the district stadium is the site of our state soccer finals and a number of other playoff games.

[00:12:04] So our facilities are great. You have a comprehensive program. We focus on character. We take care of kids and we give them a great experience. And I think that most families that go through are just really thrilled with with the kind of things that their kids get out of our athletics and activity program.

[00:12:24] Jim: [00:12:24] Well, I think that’s fantastic. And having been here and we talked before we started this interview about how this district has evolved over the last 40 years and how, how much better this district really is and how important it is to the people that live in the community. So you know what, Tim, this is, this has been an education for me, even though I’ve been here all 40 years. This has been a lot of fun to…

[00:12:54] Tim: [00:12:54] I appreciate that I, I do want to also touch on our activity program. You know, we just opened up a brand new performing arts center up at Bonney Lake High School. So we have two really state-of-the-art performing arts centers. We have outstanding music programs here. The Sumner High School Marching Band is well-known, but I’m telling you the Bonney Lake High School Marching Band is very close behind and they are growing every single year.

[00:13:22] Our, our choir programs, our drama programs, our musicals all of our clubs and activities are, are just involve a lot of students. And again, the focus is in the Summer – Bonney Lake school district is on excellence. You know, whether it’s developing character, develop, developing academics, or developing student interest.

[00:13:44] And that’s really what our academic, or excuse me, our activity program is all about, is just trying to the connect kids with what they’re interested in and connect them with positive adults and other students that share their passion. And, and again, we’re, we’re really proud of what we, we do. We’re proud of our graduation rate, but we think it all works together.

[00:14:07] Jim: [00:14:07] Right.

[00:14:09] Tim: [00:14:09] You know, those opportunities. So we probably have close to 75, 80% of all of our students that are involved in an activity or an athletic program here in our school district. And we think that’s a critical part of, of developing the the graduation rate that we’ve been able to develop here.

[00:14:29] Jim: [00:14:29] Well, you should be proud of everything that you’ve been doing and everything that the school district itself has been doing. And, and I think you guys done excellent job. So I’ve enjoyed this a lot. We’ll talk to you soon. Okay, Tim.

[00:14:45] Tim: [00:14:45] Okay. Thank you.