COLUMBIANA School board sets meeting on varsity status for soccer

Some people are concerned the district cannot financially support a fifth fall sport.
COLUMBIANA -- Making soccer a varsity sport will be discussed at a special Columbiana Board of Education meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the high school.
The board voted Monday to table the request after a lengthy discussion.
Board President Stephen Cramer has led the effort to make the 2-year-old club program a varsity sport. Cramer and others said there is support from players and parents for the move.
Some parents and players said they would transfer to another district for soccer if the program is not approved. One said that the Columbiana area soccer league has about 350 participants and that about half of the players live in the Columbiana school district.
Cramer said having a varsity soccer program could entice some new pupils to the district, either by transfer or open enrollment. He said about $1,000 is needed to fund the program.
He said the soccer club teams posted a 16-1 record this year and a 10-4 record last year, including wins over some teams that would be Tri-County League opponents.
Funding concerns: Bob Spaite, football varsity head coach, and others, expressed concern that a district the size of Columbiana could not financially support another fall sport. Although the program would be self-sufficient for the most part now, that would change as the program grows, they said.
Some parents said they were concerned about the soccer team's taking players from other sports and weakening those sports. They are also concerned about the team's being coed, and that eventually both a boys and a girls soccer program would be requested, putting further strain on the athletic budget.
Football, volleyball, golf and cross country are currently being funded.
Some parents said the district needs to improve funding for those sports. One parent complained, for example, that the junior high football team is using equipment purchased in the 1970s, and that protective equipment and uniforms don't fit players properly.
Several other parents said the board should not approve soccer before reinstating wrestling, which they said was discontinued because of financial concerns.

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