Archive for Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bonner Springs considers adding girls soccer program

March 17, 2005

About a month ago, the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville school district distributed a survey to students at Bonner Springs High School searching for the answer to this simple question: are there enough girls interested in soccer to warrant starting a girls soccer program?

The answer to that question is still up in the air.

According to Bonner Springs athletic director Garold Baker, about 45 girls showed up to take the survey, a clear sign that there is interest among the Bonner Springs students. But pairing interest with logistics might make adding a girls soccer program difficult.

"Obviously they wouldn't have taken the survey if there wasn't interest," Baker said. "But a lot of those girls are out for spring sports already, and we have to look at all of the factors involved."

Like so many things in education these days, the bottom line is money. With the district's current budget and the state of education financing in Kansas, Baker said he was unsure whether the school would be able to support a girls only program.

However, district superintendent Bob Van Maren said if the money's there, a girls program would be, as well.

"We said four years ago, when we added boys soccer, that as soon as there was enough interest for a girls program, we'd add it," Van Maren said. "It's the right time to do it if we can get some money."

The Kansas legislature is currently kicking around the idea of increasing school funding, but Van Maren said if it doesn't, the district would likely have to make more cuts to its athletic programs. That would clearly make adding a sport impossible.

"If they don't do anything, we're going to have to make cuts," Van Maren said. "And you just can't justify adding something if you're making cuts."

All financial concerns aside, there are other issues that prevent adding girls soccer from being a no-brainer.

The first is the desire to refrain from hurting the participation in the existing spring sports such as track, softball and girls swimming.

"Any time you're adding a sport, that's always a concern," Van Maren said. "Because there are only so many athletes. But soccer seems to draw from a different group."

Perhaps.

Freshman Alyssa Kelly, one of a just a handful of girls who has participated on the boys' team at BSHS, said she had a lot of friends who would be interested in playing for an all-girls team.

"Most of my friends want to try it out, but they won't do it because it's mixed in with the guys," Kelly said. "I think it would be great and I hope we have it by my junior year."

Whenever the district decides to move forward with girls soccer, both Baker and Van Maren said they would like to have current boys coaches Jimmy Vogel and David Toland run the girls program, as well.

In addition to numbers, competition is a concern. At a school the size of BSHS, thinning out the athletic programs often results in greater participation at the cost of weaker competition. Baker said that would be a concern in this case.

"We're not a 6A school with 1,500 kids," he said. "We have 700 tops. And it's hard to have quality teams with low numbers."

Although Baker's claim might indicate that he's against adding girls soccer, he's not. He said he's simply doing his job and trying to consider all of the factors and what's best for the school.

"Having more sports involves more kids and that's always something you try to do," Baker said. "But there's a lot to look at. Eventually, I think we will have girls soccer. When, I just don't know."

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