THS coaches seek athletic cut policy
Tonganoxie High School sports programs always have followed a no-cut policy.
Any students interested could participate in any sports they wanted.
But the THS athletics director and several coaches want that to change.
At Monday night's board of education meeting, John Lee, athletics director, proposed that THS implement an athletic cut policy, starting with the 2001-2002 school year.
"It's saying there's a tryout every year and it's saying that the head coach will make the cuts," Lee said.
The policy would specify that no freshmen would be cut from any team.
A cut policy is most-needed in basketball and volleyball, which have limited court space, Lee said. And it's possible softball and baseball could enforce the policy, he said.
"Every team that has too great a number of participants would have tryouts," Lee said.
After a lengthy discussion, board members agreed that more community input is needed before they vote on an athletic cut policy. The cut policy will be placed on the agenda for the July 9 board meeting.
Lee said almost all schools in the Kaw Valley League have athletic cut policies, although he said some policies are unwritten.
The way the THS coaches handle an athletic cut program will direct its effectiveness.
"The key to this is going to be how professional coaches are and the evaluation tool they use," Lee said. "If they're real thorough and they have a good evaluation tool that helps the kids that get cut, that's going to be the key."
For instance, Lee said, the coaches could tell the students who are cut from teams what skills they need to work on to improve.
"So, if a kid has a strong desire and gets cut, then hopefully, they will work on that and come back next year and make the team," Lee said.
The program also will help the better athletes hone their skills, Lee said.
"It's not just to get rid of the bad kids," Lee said. "It's to help our better kids and give them the repetition that they need."
Dave Walker, new boys basketball coach, said the goal is to improve the teams.
"Ultimately, I think what we're trying to do is to raise the bar similarly to what we're trying to do academically," Walker said. "We do an injustice to those kids who need to be told early on in their sophomore year that there might be something else they're better at. Those kids, when they're told, 'this isn't what you're really good at,' what we find is a lot of kids will find things they didn't know they'd be interested in. This in some sense kind of pushes them out of the nest to try to look at something else and find new opportunity there."
Board member Ron Moore said he was concerned that an athletic cut policy would have a negative impact.
"I just feel like there may be a lot of problems with the parents and with the kids," Moore said. "There will be questions about who decides what and why or the coach just doesn't like me. We haven't had too many problems like that in the past."
Moore asked if a cut policy could be enacted on a trial basis, for instance one school year. Lee said no.
"I think we should try it," Lee said. "We could modify it, but I don't think we should get rid of it."
Lee, who had brought this to the board as a last-minute agenda item, said he hoped the board would immediately approve the cut policy.
Gene Becker, a member of the high school site council who was attending the board meeting, objected.
"I really think you ought to get some community input on this," Becker said. "You might have a problem with them in fact you have a problem with this with me, and my kids don't even want to play."
Board member Terry Needham also expressed concern.
"Research I have read supports the fact that students who are actively involved are higher students academically," Needham said. "If we cut students out of sports, what other activities will they have to replace them?"
Board member Bob Gepner agreed.
"I think we need to get as many kids as you guys can handle on the court," he said. "It's so much better if they are in sports. I realize there can be too many on a team, but I want you to take as many as you can handle."