School board: Girls soccer will kick in by ‘07
Members unanimously approve 14th team sport for Tonganoxie High; inaugural season next school year
Tonganoxie High School girls will get to show their muscle on the soccer field next year.
All by themselves.
At Monday night's school board meeting, board members voted 6-0 to approve a girls team. Board member Dr. Richard Dean was not at the meeting.
For the past couple years, THS has had a coed soccer team -- a few girls have played on the team, which consists mostly of boys.
Prior to the vote, mothers of five girls who attend Tonganoxie schools urged board members to approve the girls team.
"I just hope that you guys make a really great decision concerning all of this," said Charleen Koschke, whose daughter, Lana Dominguez, is in the eighth grade. "I'm just excited you're considering this."
Karen Armstrong said her daughter, Makenzie Armstrong, also is in the eighth grade.
"Most of the eighth grade girls have been playing (soccer) together since preschool," Armstrong said. "... I know you're going to have enough girls to make a great girls soccer team."
Armstrong noted that the high school soccer team has been coed.
"A lot of them (the girls) do want to play with the boys, some of them don't want to play with the boys," Armstrong said.
Tammy Bartels praised the school's spring track program and said she didn't think a spring girls soccer program would take away too many prospective track participants.
"I don't think the addition of another sport as our schools grow is going to hurt anything," Bartels said.
She noted there are "a lot of fifth- and sixth-grade girls that are very interested in playing soccer."
Susan Oelschlaeger said her daughter, Kayla Oelschlaeger, who is a sophomore, has played soccer since she was 7.
"She's very interested in playing on an all-girls soccer team," Oelschlaeger said. "This town is growing enough that there's no reason why we should not have a girls soccer team. We'll be able to compete with surrounding communities that are growing just like we are. We might as well be progressive and keep up with the towns."
Like the other mothers, Sandi Becker said her daughter, Kendra Walters, had played soccer since she was young.
"There is a whole team here -- at least one whole team if not more -- that would be willing to play," Becker said.
And THS sophomore Cally Owsley, who came to the meeting with her mother, Kelly Owsley, told board members she played on the coed soccer team last year.
"I enjoy playing with the guys, but it also makes it a lot harder to show how good you are," Cally said.
THS soccer coach Kenneth Lott asked board members to approve girls soccer for the spring 2007 season. The Kansas State High School Activities Association has its boys season in the fall and girls season in the spring. When a school does not offer a girls team, high school girls can participate with boys teams in the fall, as has been the case in Tonganoxie.
Superintendent Richard Erickson voiced support and recommended that the school offer girls soccer.
"It's another opportunity to connect our students with our school," Erickson said.
Board president Leana Leslie said she thought the program should be postponed another year.
"I'm for the soccer program, but is there any push to do it this coming year, versus the following year?" Leslie asked. "We have so much going on with construction. ..."
But Lott urged board members to approve the program for a 2007 start.
"The reason I'm kind of pushing it for next year is the fact that there are a lot of girls that are sophomores that want to play," Lott said. "I already have a bunch of eighth-graders that I can work with for four years. I kind of think that the girls that have played for two years on the coed team -- they don't get as much playing time as they should."
And, Lott said, 2007 would be the first year the Kaw Valley League would start up the program.
"We would have five or six other teams to play," Lott said.
Lott acknowledged Leslie's concern about construction.
"The cons are the fact that you're building a new school and other things," Lott said. "But as the cost goes, I don't think it's a big expense."
Leslie responded that she thought "the kids would have enough to go through," while getting accustomed to the new school construction.
Board member Kay Smith disagreed, saying, "Kids are more adaptable than you think -- I move that we implement a girls soccer program starting in 2007."
Board member Ron Moore seconded Smith's motion, saying, "We've got plenty of soccer fields."
Later, Sandi Becker said she was pleased with the board's decision to start a girls soccer program.
Her daughter, eighth-grader Kendra Walters, had wanted to play soccer in high school.
"She's been playing soccer since she was in kindergarten," Becker said.
Becker said there's a hope this eventually would lead to more college opportunities for girls.
"They're trying to get a girls team started at Kansas City Kansas Community College, so they can go there," Becker said.