Soccer Club Seeks School Support To Establish High School Program
A large group of parents and supporters of the Emmetsburg Soccer Club were on hand at the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education meeting Nov. 16, seeking support for the burgeoning youth club.
Travis Fries spoke on behalf of the club members and explained that the group was looking to improve the existing soccer program, which currently provides soccer opportunities for boys and girls ages 5 to 14. Specifically, the club would like the Emmetsburg school district to consider adding soccer as a school sport at the high school level.
“It is our intention to reach out to the surrounding communities that currently do not offer high school soccer and allow students to play with Emmetsburg High,” said Fries.
Fries continued, “Soccer is strong in Emmetsburg and northwest Iowa. We had 110 youth participate in the fall, and 200 in the spring. We would like to start a junior varsity boy/girl league this spring and utilize the old Middle School football field for practices and games.”
Fries noted that the group conducted a survey, which showed that 47 students–26 boys and 21 girls–expressed interest in participating in JV soccer.
He added that several 1A schools in northwest Iowa currently offer boys’ and girls’ soccer at the high school level. Those schools include:?Western Christian, Unity Christian, Spirit Lake, and Humboldt. Storm Lake and Spencer are larger schools in the region that offer soccer, as well.
Spencer Head Soccer Coach Tom Van Tassell and Jock McDonald, who is the governing chair for the Board of Directors of the Iowa Soccer Association, spoke in support of the Emmetsburg program.
“Obviously, soccer provides important health benefits, and is an excellent cross-training sport,” said Van Tassell.
“There’s also a mental aspect to soccer. Players learn to be courageous and sharpen their decision-making skills,” McDonald added.
School board member Laure Egland noted that with the latest state budget cuts, the school had no room for another program.
“The Governor has handed down a ten percent across-the-board cut to our budget. I don’t feel the school has the money for this right now,” Egland explained. “Plus, we’re having trouble finding athletes to field the sports we do have due to declining enrollment.”
“We’re not asking the school for any money,” said Missy Schutz, parent supporter. “We’re hoping to get a casino grant to cover the cost of goals. We would come up with the jerseys, transportation, and coaching fee all on our own.”
Emmetsburg Superintendent John Joynt concurred with Egland.
“Our school district is looking at job cuts over the next two and three years,” Joynt added.
“How are we going to look at our staff when someone’s had their job cut, and then we bring on a soccer program?” wondered Board President Karla Anderson. “That’s hard. What I would like to see is a three-year plan of what a soccer program would cost.”
Board member Don Hagen was in agreement. “If you can put something out there without an cost to the district, we can take a look at it,” said Hagen.
The issue will be discussed at a future meeting of the board.