Potential Football Program Dies in Swink School District – La Junta Tribune Democrat
By JOE ZEMBA Cherry Road Media
An action item to add a boys and girls football program to Swink High School died due to no motion last Monday night at the Swink School District’s regular school board meeting.
The board had considered adding the programs, initiated by a group of community supporters of the idea who cited the sport’s growing popularity across the United States and its position as the most popular sport in the world.
“The board reviewed the estimated cost and ultimately decided they weren’t ready to commit,” Swink School District Superintendent Kyle Hebberd said after the meeting.
According to Hebberd, the board estimated that the cost of adding a program, presumably a boys’ program to begin with, would cost the district between $16,000 and $17,000 per year.
The cost would double to add a girls’ program, which board members said would be necessary given the ramifications of Title IX.
Following their Jan. 12 meeting, at which several people spoke in favor of the program, the board held a number of meetings, Hebberd said, with other school districts in the River Valley. Arkansas to weigh the merits of a cooperative program where each participating school district would share the cost of the program. The idea has proven successful in the Arkansas Valley, proponents cited, referring to the Arkansas Valley swim team, where an identical agreement exists between participating districts with swimmers in the program.
“Our athletic director has contacted all districts in our area to gauge interest in the program,” Hebberd said. “The idea was to see if other districts had a real interest in joining. None of them do.
: The consensus is that if we were to add these programs, we would pay for everything ourselves,” Hebberd said. “And we would still have students from other districts participating, both out of need to have enough participants and because of CHSAA (Colorado High School Activities Association) rules, because they don’t have a program in their district.”
Hebberd, however, hinted at the idea of football being a possibility in the future, citing the addition of a seventh and eighth grade recreational league from this year.
“There are 28 kids signed up for recess,” Hebberd said. “The board said they want to see how this program develops over the next few years. It could be resumed later.
At least one board member, Kai Davis, apparently voiced his support for the program during the Jan. 10 meeting, where he rejected Swink High School’s head football coach’s idea that a football program would be a “program killer” negatively affecting the football team.
“Swink and the Arkansas Valley are unique in that there are enough schools that it’s not necessarily a killer program,” Davis said. “The idea that Swink won’t join a football program is wrong. There are people who go to athletics specifically for that. Would there be an extra cost? Yes. But it also has the potential to be an additional draw.
To his credit, Hilz noted that his concerns were by no means intended to completely suppress the discussion, but rather suggested that the board consider partnering with a larger school district, potentially La Junta, where facilities are already in place. up and there. is a larger pool of student-athletes to draw from.
This idea, however, seems to have been abandoned.
While the East Otero School District was unavailable for comment before press time, the Rocky Ford School District, representing the Arkansas Valley’s second-largest student pool, appeared to be d agreement with Hilz.
“We’re seeing a decrease in the number of football and cross country players,” said Rocky Ford High School athletic director Shawn McNames. “One more sport is going to decimate these programs even more.”
Additionally, McNames expressed concern about facilities and the possibility of issues with practice schedules.
“Where do we host this type of program? asked McNames. “We use our facilities for our high school, college and recreation. already leagues. Finding the time and the resources would be difficult. There are several things you need to consider. »
McNames said the idea came to his attention at a meeting of athletic directors, where several representatives from schools in the Arkansas Valley were present.
“I wouldn’t want to speak for anyone else, but when we spoke as a group, some of the other ADs said the same thing,” he added. “It seemed to be more related to the lack of student-athletes coming out of the pandemic and everyone’s efforts, first, to try and rebuild those numbers.”
Johnny Adame, head coach of women’s soccer at Otero College, said in January that the men’s and women’s teams at Otero College have more than 80 student-athletes who attend Otero College to participate in the soccer program and that each program offers 24 paid bursaries for student-athletes, thus limiting out-of-pocket expenses incurred by student-athletes.
According to Adame, the college has no athletes from the Arkansas Valley, full or partial scholarship, or otherwise college-level participants for Otero College. “There is no connection and no resource for these kids after recreational football ends,” Adame said. “We are currently recruiting student-athletes from Pueblo and Colorado Springs, but we would like to be able to provide student-athletes from the Arkansas Valley with scholarship opportunities to attend Otero and potentially four-year institutions, where they will have the opportunity to continue athletics while earning a degree.”
“Football presents a huge opportunity to provide help to children right here in the valley, which they could leverage by graduating from a great institution,” he said.
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