By Erin Bohn, ECS Student Correspondent
Ellicottville and West Valley have talked about merging sports since 2009, and it looks like it will finally happen. The schools have merged for football and track for two years so far and both have been very successful.
Ellicottville is no stranger to combining sports, they have previously combined track, cross-country, swimming, wrestling and a few other sports well. This is not something that will happen to these two districts alone. Many schools across the area and state are combining sports with other schools.
For the 2012- 2013 school year, the schools are looking at just combining lower level programs, the modified and possibly junior varsity sports. The sports would most likely include girl’s and boys’ soccer, volleyball, seventh and eighth grade basketball, softball and baseball. Merging these lower level sports will not change the classification of any of the sports at the varsity level.
The schools are moving in this direction for many reasons, a main one is the trouble both schools have fielding teams. Both of the school’s enrollments have dropped, so there is the possibility of losing JV and modified teams. ECS currently plays much larger schools and this will help the district be more competitive against these other teams. Many of the students aren’t as interested in sports because of the other programs offered, and there are also too many sports offered for the students interested in playing sports.
There are definitely some issues that would come with this merger, the main one being the logistics of it all. How this all will work needs to be figured out first, for example transportation, where the teams will practice and play, who will coach, the teammates not knowing each other as well, and standardizing the two schools’ athletic eligibility policies. Later, the issues of uniforms and classification will have to be discussed, but for now, those are minor problems. To help students get to know each other, the schools both plan to hold meetings inviting students in grades 6-8 to visit the other school.
In the future, in about two to five years, both districts want to move towards combining all of the sports. They don’t want to combine some sports, but not others; it will eventually be all or nothing. The increased numbers will bring stability to athletics and make both districts more competitive. Students will form more friendships will students from another school and gain more opportunities.
Ellicottville is currently looking at geographical alignment, so teams won’t have to travel so far to play games. This means our future rivals could be one of the surrounding schools. This is being viewed as a win-win for both Ellicottville and West Valley.
Most of the remaining work comes with the logistics of the merger, but both schools seem eager to merge – it is really about getting the numbers for the schools up. It is not quite official yet, the Ellicottville School Board still has to vote on it, but it looks like sports will be combined. To read more about this meeting, go to the Ellicottville Central website to view the PowerPoint presentation.