RUTHVEN - It's been a tumultuous season for the Ruthven-Ayrshire Raider Football team. Starting the season back in August with 15 players, the team saw its varsity season end in September due to injuries and a concern over the safety of its young squad. At that time, administrators at Ruthven-Ayrshire knew something had to be done.
On Monday night, something was done. After several weeks of soul-searching, meetings with neighboring school districts and public meetings, the RA Board of Education voted unanimously to share football for the next two-year cycle, and then voted unanimously to share football with neighboring Graettinger-Terril. The action came during the November meeting of the school board in Ruthven.
"We have a definite need to share," RA Principal and Athletic Director Jon Josephson said, beginning the final discussion on the issue. "The two driving factors for this were first, the cancellation of the season and second, our inability to be able to field a junior varsity team for the last couple of years."
Josephson reviewed the process leading up to the board meeting, from the cancellation of the football team's season after Homecoming, meetings held by the players, parents and administration and surveys of the players to determine a direction. After contacting officials from Emmetsburg, Graettinger-Terril and Laurens-Marathon about the possibilities of sharing football, a study committee comprised of RA Board members Susan Sikora and Tracy Enderson, along with Superintendent Dr. Noreen Bunt, Josephson and Football Coach Larry Swingen, met with Graettinger-Terril and Emmetsburg to further explore the possibilities.
Following the meetings between schools, a public informational meeting was held on Nov. 3 in Ruthven to brief district patrons on the two proposals and to answer questions. Representatives from both neighboring districts were on hand to answer questions about their respective programs.
"What we need to do now is decide by vote if we want to share football," commented RA Board President Ray Grandstaff.
A motion was made by Susan Sikora and seconded by Board member Barry Fischer to share football for the next two-year period. A unanimous vote followed, setting up the final decision whom to share with.
"It's going to be hard to satisfy everybody," Grandstaff observed, "But our priority as a board is to provide the best opportunity for our students."
Jesse Ulrich, Graettinger-Terril Principal, commented that 85 percent of the GT students expressed interest in sharing when surveyed. "We've had a lot of positive feedback from parents in the district as well at a public meeting we held last week. We believe that sharing programs that we have in place with you folks are very valuable and we would like to expand on those opportunities."
Jay Jurrens, Emmetsburg High School Principal, noted that Emmetsburg would be pleased to welcome Ruthven-Ayrshire's athletes into the program as well. "You folks have to make the decision on what is best for your students."
After a few moments, Grandstaff asked for a show of hands of the board members on their preference for sharing. Six hands were raised for Graettinger-Terril, one hand was raised for Emmetsburg.
Board member Tammy Chapman moved to share football with Graettinger-Terril for a two-year program, and Tracy Enderson offered a second to the motion. A unanimous vote of the seven board members brought the process to a close.
"I just want to say that Emmetsburg has a wonderful program and you offered us a wonderful opportunity," Enderson said. "But, I wondered how well our kids would have fit in. Emmetsburg is truly a wonderful program, no doubt about it. Kudos to you for it.'