The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 14, 1995 · Page 37
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 37

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, May 14, 1995
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Page 37
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The Salina Journal Sunday, May 14,1995 D5 The addition lem SOCCER STORM RISING Adding soccer to overloaded high school budgets may prove nearly impossible BY LARRY MORITZ THE SAUNA JOURNAL Gary Musselman has seen school districts similar to Salina's wrestle with the issue of soccer. What is widely considered the most popular sport in the world has yet to find its way into Salina high schools. And like most issues that come before the members of the Salina Board of Education, soccer's arrival at Salina South and Salina Central could become a matter of dollars and cents. "When you're looking at finite financial resources, you have to ask yourself if you're serving a different population by adding a new program," said Musselman, an assistant executive director with the Kansas State High School Activities Association. "You've got kids not in any other activity now that might be playing soccer if you added the sport. On the flip side, when you add something new you see the phenomenon of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Programs begin competing just to keep kids where they are. "And with the financial issues you've been wrestling with in Salina, you have to decide 'How do we do more?' when you're trying hard just to sustain your current level." Local soccer supporter Steve Schorn began the most recent effort to have the sport added in Salina's two public schools. Schorn spoke before the board of educa- • tion this week and then contacted Central athletic director Sam Siegrist about researching the funding that would be required. Prior to that, athletic directors from both schools said they occasionally hear from individuals questioning why the sport is not ; currently in the athletic curricu- ; lum. Siegrist and South's Gregg Gordon agree there are questions that . must be answered before Salina I schools will ever play their first ; soccer games, the biggest being • r whether board members would ' agree to fund an additional sport !• in the near future. I "To be honest, what it's going to ; take to get soccer is to get people j from the community to go to the 1 board and request it, much like I the people did for baseball and ! softball (in 1990)," Gordon said. ! "Soccer is a wonderful cardio- ] vascular activity. But the board i has to determine what they are • going to cut to add soccer. We're ! not, unless I've read the board ', wrong, in an adding mode. We're ; in a cutback mode as evidenced 1 by the number of teachers who did i not have their contracts renewed ! this year." ! "I've had two parents contact [ the school (prior to this week), ; asking about soccer and how to > get it started, and I don't know I how much interest that would indi- ! cate," said Siegrist, in his first i year as Central athletic director. [ "With the financial problems we | have now — including cutbacks in ! the district of 20 percent across ! the board in athletics, bigger class 1 sizes and teachers being laid off — I it would be hard to ask the board j of education to fund additional ; programs." i Much of the research will be I based on the financial questions of adding soccer. But the district's : first goal may be to determine if jthere was enough interest among ;students — both male and female '•— to back such a program. ; "It's a growth activity," Musselman said. "It's not growing as •rapidly now at the high school lev- lei as it has in the past, because ;we've had a number of schools adding baseball and softball in the last few years. i "But you have young people who play youth soccer, and as they get older it goes from a Saturday morning activity to where they'd like to play at the junior high and high school levels." There are no set figures to indicate how much it would cost to start a high school soccer program, although supporters of such a plan argue that the sport is one of the least expensive to implement. Officials at Louisburg High School, a Class 4A school in eastern Kansas, are currently considering adding soccer and recently did some of the same research local officials would likely undertake. According to Louisburg athletic director Doug Chisam, their figures indicated it will cost between $22,000 and $30,000 to start both SOCCER ANSWERS Gary Musselman, assistant executive director with the KSHSAA, cleared up several questions that might be raised if Salina school district officials consider adding soccer: • During the 1994-95 school year, 56 Kansas high schools offered a boys soccer program. Half of those were Class 6A schools. Eighteen of the 32 schools in Class 5A currently field soccer teams. Only 35 schools have girls soccer. • There are schools that choose to establish one team at a time, and if a district offers only boys soccer, then girls can be allowed to play on the same team. Those combined teams are required to compete in the fall against mostly all-male squads. • Two schools like Salina Central and Salina South can consider a cooperative agreement, which would allow the district to establish only one team but have players from both schools participate. Unlike individual sports like golf, tennis, swimming and track; Central and South could put together a combined team, and those athletes would be allowed to compete together during postseason as one team. Although team scores are kept in the earlier mentioned sports, if an athlete can qualify for. state as an individual, he or she is not allowed to represent ahother school during postseason. • If South and Central - Class 5A schools - worked out a cooperative agreement, they would have to compete as a 6A team during postseason events, taking into consideration their combined enrollments. That would not be a concern for a local girls program, since all classes - 6A through 1A - already compete together in postseason. Boys programs are divided into two groups - 6A and 5-1 A. Competing as a 6A team In soccer would not affect the schools' classification in any other sport. ..• There are some restrictions placed on facilities used for soccer at the high school level, but Musselman called those rules "somewhat flexible." A regulation high school soccer field can be anywhere from 100 to 120 yards long, and 55 to 75 yards wide. That would allow Salina teams to play on an available football field,. although Musselman said that is not typically encouraged. The crowned fields are not conducive to getting a true roll on the ball, with soccer facilities looking for a flatter surface. Also schools that use football fields for soccer games are not likely to play host to postseason contests at the state tournament level. - Larry Moritz boys and girls soccer programs at their school. That number included uniforms and equipment for 30 athletes on each team — enough for a varsity and junior varsity program — and covered nearly all expenses the school expected to incur except funding for facilities. "When you look at the funding, there are the obvious things like the coaching salaries and the equipment," Siegrist said. "But we don't know if we have the fields available and there are some hidden costs. "When you have teachers that are coaches and they have to miss school, you've got substitute teachers you have to pay. And there are always some overhead costs, such as administrative, security, transportation and providing workers to maintain the playing fields, which can all be pretty hefty at times. "There are other schools with soccer programs that might give us some idea what it would cost to start, but we're running a pretty close line right now." In addition to the expense of hiring officials to work the games, Gordon noted that there are no KSHSAA registered soccer officials living in Salina. Until registered officials became available, local schools would have to pay not only for the officials but for their transportation to'and from Salina. The district would also have to consider adding to its transportation fleet, since Gordon said the large number of spring sports already makes it difficult to find available buses. Then there is the question of gender equity. If the district decided to start a soccer program, it would also have to determine if it could afford teams for both boys and girls. "If we have boys, why wouldn't we have a girls team," Gordon said. "Or if we add girls, why wouldn't we add boys?" RISING UP Coaches Steve Schorn and Almir Begic lead both the 12-and-under Salina Thunder team (right) and the 14-and-under Salina Thunder team (below). Photos by Lourie Zipf/Salina Journal Growing Pains Salina youth programs struggling to keep up with demand CONTINUED FROM PAGE D1 "As far as the money part, we're struggling because we don't have any official sponsors," Begic said. "But the reason this program was started was because people felt like these kids were kind of neglected. This gives them some place to go after they've finished at the YMCA." The YMCA program shows continued growth, with more than 1,400 participants in the spring soccer leagues for children kindergarten through sixth grade. According to youth sports director Gwen Boyer, those numbers are up by nearly 500 athletes in the past four years. "It's our most popular sport and right now we're running eight fields on Saturdays," Boyer said. "We have teams playing from 9 a.m. until the last games are done about 4 p.m. And as long as we can keep finding places to play, we'll keep adding." The philosophy behind the YMCA program, according to Boyer, is to develop fundamentals and give all participants an equal amount of playing time. The interest it develops among the younger athletes then helps feed the traveling teams. In addition to Begic's squad, the Salina Thunder includes a 14-and- under team coached by Steve Schorn. Many of the athletes on Schorn's squad were members of the original Thunder team three years ago. "Since we started this program I've never been disappointed in the interest shown by the kids," Schorn said. "I was overwhelmed at the number of kids that came out this year. The only problem was that we had just the two coaches and we couldn't get a team for all the ninth-grade boys we had. It was just too much for two coaches to take on." The Salina Storm, made up of local girls ages 12 through 14, is completing its first year of competition. Coached by Edgar Resales, along with John and Dana Barnes, the Storm has Also benefited from increased interest at the elementary school level. "I think the girls program (at the YMCA) has become even more popular this year," Boyer said. "We have 26 teams strictly for girls, and that doesn't include the coed teams for the kindergarten and first-grade kids. "All of our sports continue to grow, but not necessarily among STORM WARNING The Salina Storm, a girls 14-and-under soccer.team, will play host to a four-team round-robin tournament next Saturday at Salina South Middle School. The Topeka Keepers, McPherson -Strikers, Newton Express and the Storm will play two games in the morning (starting at 9:30) and two in the afternoon (starting at 2 p.m.). Teams will earn six points for a win, three for a tie, a point per goal scored up to three per game and one point for shutting out an opponent. • Between sessions, the Salina Thunder, a boys 12-and-under team, will play a team from Hays in an exhibition game. the girls like soccer has." Begic and Schorn say the number of kids they have to work with is even more impressive, considering the athletes' parents agree to allow their children play a sport that holds very little future for them in Salina. "These parents want their kids to be playing a sport they know they can continue in," Begic said. "Parents need to be able to see a future in it. It's hard to let your kid play in a sport when you know they're only going to be playing until the eighth grade." The lack of organized soccer at the high school .level is a concern for Begic, who believes providing an outlet for kids after they leave the Thunder can only help the traveling teams. "We need these kids to continue to have the opportunity to play somewhere after they're finished here," Begic said. "The thing about soccer is anybody can be good at it. You don't need big players, and parents want an alternative to football for their kids. "Something is going to happen at the high school level, but how soon I don't know." "My son will be a ninth grader next year at Salina Central," Schorn said. "And my aspirations are eventually to see soccer in the high schools. I certainly wouldn't want to take away from the football legacy Central now has, but I think there should be another outlet for boys and girls who want to play soccer. M ASIU '\(\ -S. \l.l\.\ HEALTH INFORMATION LINE Journal 325-6000 category 5000 "It's growing all around us. McPherson, Newton and Emporia are all smaller towns and they have soccer in high school. 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