Earlier this month, the Hawkins County Board of Education approved a $40,000 expenditure to cover start-up costs for new boys and girls soccer programs at both Cherokee and Volunteer high schools.
The BOE voted 4-0 with three abstentions in favor of the program. The three board members who abstained weren’t opposed to the program.
They wanted to discuss the new programs during a BOE workshop scheduled for Monday evening so some questions could be answered first.
On Tuesday evening, the BOE’s Athletic Committee met with administrators in hopes of resolving a few of the pending questions about the soccer program.
Some of those questions were posed by Cherokee principal Gloria Silvers in a Nov. 14 letter to the BOE and Central Office, including whether there would be a problem with an imbalance of boys and girls athletic programs for the 2012-13 school year.
The TSSAA requires equal sports programming for boys and girls. Boys soccer is a spring sport, and girls soccer is a fall sport, which means the girls team won’t begin until the 2013-14 school year.
Director of Schools Charlotte Britton said her staff received confirmation from TSSAA that due to the timeline, there would be no problem with starting the boys program in the spring of 2013.
There was also a question of where games and practice will take place.
TSSAA allows soccer games to be played on football fields, although a football field is smaller than a regulation soccer field. Hawkins County would not be eligible, however, to host postseason playoff games, which must be played on a regulation field.
Boys home games will be played on their respective football fields, but there are still potential schedule conflicts between football and girls games in the fall.
There’s also a question of where practices will take place for boys and girls.
Britton appointed a committee Tuesday to resolve those issues. She said there are prospects, potentially off campus, but details haven’t been finalized.
Silvers said in her letter she fully supports implementation of the new soccer programs at Cherokee.
“I sincerely believe that our students need multiple opportunities to be involved in school activities,” Silvers said.
The new soccer programs were proposed by school board member Chris Christian at the Nov. 1 BOE meeting.
Christian polled students and found that 28 boys and 23 girls at Volunteer and 45 boys and 42 girls at Cherokee were interested in playing soccer. A poll of middle school students about playing soccer when they get to high school also revealed substantial interest.
“We as parents, teachers, coaches and administrators have an obligation to create opportunities for our children,” Christian told the Times-News on Wednesday. “That’s what we’re there for. If by creating a soccer program we enable a child who otherwise wouldn’t have this opportunity to play, and maybe get a college education out of it, it’s worth our time and money to make that happen.”