Momence High to add self-funded varsity soccer next year
The Momence Board of Education passed a resolution to offer soccer as a varsity sport at the town's high school during a recent meeting.
‘’We are excited about offering this new sport for our high school students to begin next year – 2017,’’ school board President Brent Prairie told the Kankakee Times. ‘’My understanding is that this is the first time it has been offered. This is to be in addition to our existing football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, bass fishing and golf.’’
But it comes with a caveat.
The sport will be self-funded, which means the school district will not offer any financial assistance.
Momence High already has a self-funded sport in bass fishing.
‘’In reference to the funding question. The deteriorating financial state of Illinois is well documented,’’ Prairie said. ‘’With the ongoing cuts and ever-diminishing financial support from the state, we are barely hanging on in regard to academics. Sports funding is obviously a place where school budget cuts and constraints have already been felt.’’
Prairie said any additional costs are obviously met with expected scrutiny.
‘’Bass fishing was introduced to our school board over a year ago by a local business and enthusiastic parents," Prairie said. "It was offered to our students under the condition it was to be funded ‘outside’ the school’s finances. ‘’
Prairie said soccer was presented to the board in the same fashion and approved with the same conditions.
‘’We provide for the soccer fields on district property, and the rest (coaches, refs, soccer goals, uniforms, balls, field maintenance, etc…) would be funded ‘outside’ the district’s finances. A co-operative collaborative opportunity of sorts,’’ Prairie said.
Prairie, though, said there are some risks involved, as well as some rewards.
‘’If the enthusiastic support diminishes, then the financial support may also, putting the lifespan of the sport into jeopardy,’’ Prairie said "The benefit is that the school district can offer and support an additional sport to our students, and the local community can take more ownership over their school district."
The bass-fishing team has been in existence for two years.
To raise money, the team has held spaghetti dinners and raffles.
That’s how the soccer idea came about.
A survey was conducted at the high school, and Prairie said there was a high degree of interest from students who support the soccer program.
‘’We are truly blessed to have local businesses and parents that have stepped up and offered to support our district in this, and so many other ways,’’ Prairie said.
Kankakee High athletic director Bill Geasa said both programs will be varsity-level sports participating in the IHSA program.
In addition, Geasa said team tryouts will follow the IHSA calendar, and coaches will be hired by the end of this school year.
''Game schedules are currently being coordinated with the other athletic directors of the Twin Valley Conference (joint conference of the Sangamon Valley and River Valley conferences for soccer, cross country, wrestling and golf),'' Geasa said.