Published On: Thu, May 2nd, 2013

Junior High football to co-op with Bloomfield

By Bob Marks

Wausa Schools Superintendent

WAUSA — Call it a sign of the times, poor boy to girl ration in some classes, or just smaller classes in general, but more often many smaller schools are sharing programs, especially in sports, when numbers are low. Having fewer players increases the risk of injuries. Athletes may not receive proper rest or frequently play non-stop because there are not adequate substitutes available during games and practices.

Such is the case with boy’s junior high football for Wausa Public Schools and Bloomfield Community schools for the next few years. For the 2013-14 year, Wausa has a total of 10 boys in grades 7 and 8. Bloomfield, however, has 18 junior high boys.

The 2014-15 year is similar for both schools. In 2015-16 and 2016-17, Bloomfield has 10 boys total the first year and 11 the second year. High school numbers are higher since students can draw from grades 9-12. Even with that, numbers range from 15 – 30.

Junior high sports serve as a stepping-stone, a time to learn the fundamentals needed to give athletes an idea of what competition will be like in high school. I can guarantee you that a bad experience in junior high will not likely result in sustained participation into the high school years. Also, the total numbers available for either boys or girls does not guarantee that everyone will participate. In reality, that is rarely the case.

We have two primary concerns. First and foremost, the possibility of injury to players that are not ready physically or emotionally for athletic competition. Secondly playing against much more physical teams with more players can have a demoralizing effect on any team that struggles week after week. Wausa and Bloomfield boys have been playing together for years in Baseball, more recently in golf and cross-country. Even though it is a different sport, the process should not be new.

Plans for coop implementation include:

• Both teams will probably wear their own helmets.

• A generic jersey will be used for all

• At this point, practice will be held on the grass corner at Rolling Hills Golf Course, centrally located between the two schools to minimize travel.

• A coach from each school will be included

• Practice will continue to be at the end of the school day with students returning before the end of day bus route

• We will have the same number of games as in years past. There will be at least one home game for each school. The location of the remaining games will depend on each team’s current schedule.

Is there uncertainty about this cooperative venture in sports? Perhaps, but with the cooperation of parents and coaches and especially a positive attitude, it should be a positive experience. We preface most everything we do with “what is best for our kids”, not our egos, not our pride nor our record. This will probably harder for parents to adjust than the kids. Very few people can tell you what they did in a particular game or season 20 years ago, but they may be more likely to tell you the friends they made or experiences they had.