ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Board of Education doesn’t want to make a hasty decision in combining Surgoinsville and Church Hill middle schools to make individual volleyball, softball and baseball teams.
Sports co-op agreements have existed between Hawkins County schools for years allowing students from one school to compete in a sport at another school.
Those partnerships are sometimes necessary due to one or both schools not having enough players and/or coaches to make individual teams.
Volunteer and Cherokee have a combined swimming team because there is no pool for practice in Rogersville and they have to use the pool in Kingsport. Cherokee and Volunteer also have a combined bowling team because the only bowling alley in the county is in Rogersville.
This past Thursday, the BOE approved 10 of 12 sports co-op agreements but postponed approval of the proposed combined baseball, softball, and volleyball teams between Surgoinsville and Church Hill middle schools.
Most of the partnerships approved on Thursday have been long-standing, but this would be the first year for a combined CHMS and SMS baseball, softball and volleyball team.
Board Chairman Chris Christian told the Times News he wanted to make sure neither school was able to field individual teams before committing to combining the schools.
Those co-op agreements were referred to the BOE’s Athletic Committee, which meets June 15 at 6 p.m.
During Thursday’s discussion, board member Tecky Hicks noted that once a school sends its students to play a sport at a different school, that sport disappears at their school.
“I don’t want to do anything that would impede kids from participating, but what bothers me is when we start doing these sports co-op things, we’re going to have schools that lose their sports identity,” Hicks said.
Hicks added, “How are we going to know going forward that the participation level at a particular school is not going to support that school if we don’t have tryouts in every individual school?”
Director of Schools Matt Hixson said there are sign-ups and/or surveys taken to determine interest in a sport prior to the season.
“We review these annually because it is our hope that each school farms its own team,” Hixson said. “But sometimes due to facility needs, or due to lack of turnout, or due to a lack of finding coaches — any of those rationales are good reasons to co-op. We’re seeing surrounding counties do the same. Washington County, for example, does middle school co-ops, and several other systems do the same because they either have low student turnout for individual sports or lack of available coaches.”
Board member Judy Trent said she was very surprised about the co-ops between SMS and CHMS baseball and softball because those have always been great rivalries and major activities for both schools.
“I don’t want to take that away from Surgoinsville,” Trent said. “That’s where people are interested. They want to go see their kid play on their field that they played when they were young. It builds community relationships to have those activities at their own school.”
Hixson said he supports taking a second look at the CHMS and SMS baseball, softball and volleyball co-ops to make sure those partnerships are necessary.
If a school can field a team it will, Hixson added. If not, the co-ops are necessary to make sure children who want to participate are given an opportunity, even if it’s at a different school.
Aside from the bowling and swimming teams, on Thursday the BOE approved co-ops between CHMS, SMS and VHS for wrestling; Bulls Gap, RMS and Cherokee for wrestling; RMS, Clinch and Cherokee for baseball and softball; Clinch and Cherokee for football; CHM and SMS for golf; RMS, Rogersville City School, Bulls Gap and Clinch soccer; CHMS and SMS soccer; and all sports at CHMS and Church Hill Intermediate.