POPLAR RIDGE — There were some dissatisfied voices at the Vision for Southern Cayuga Athletics community forum on Monday.
More than 30 people were greeted with two announcements that brought forth questions and concerns.
The Southern Cayuga Central School District Board of Education announced its intention to end, in the 2011-12 school year, a long sports merger with the Union Springs Central School District.
The second announcement was that Southern Cayuga girls swimming will go coed next year.
Other proposed athletics for 2011-12 are:
• Fall: boys and girls varsity and modified soccer, boys JV (junior varsity) soccer if numbers support; coed varsity and modified cross country; girls varsity and JV volleyball
• Winter: boys and girls varsity, JV and modified basketball (girls modified - short season); coed varsity swimming; boys wrestling as a club; girls cheerleading; girls modified volleyball (short season with basketball)
• Spring: (four possible, three will be offered based on roster numbers at sign-up time), boys varsity and modified baseball; girls varsity and modified softball; coed varsity golf; coed varsity and modified track; coed varsity tennis.
Ed Beck, in his first year as girls swimming coach, said being on a coed team will be tough for the girls.
“They won’t be a girls team,” he said. “They won’t be competing against girls. They’ll be forced to compete against boys in a boys competition.”
After the forum, Beck said he will have to break the news to the girls and that he himself just learned of the changes.
“It was a surprise for me because I wasn’t expecting to come to a meeting where swimming was cut,” he said. “I found out the same time everybody else did.”
Board vice president Lisa Killian said that of the 11 girls on the team now, seven will graduate in 2011, leaving few participants.
Beck said he has already spoken to two Southern Cayuga girls and two Union Springs girls who want to swim next year.
“I’m just asking for a chance to try to keep the team,” he said.
Union Springs school board vice president Dale Ottosen said although he respects the decision-making process, he disagrees with the outcome.
“Union Springs does not support the end of merged sports,” he said. “We can’t do it (field certain sports teams) without you. You can’t do it without us.”
Southern Cayuga board president Bruce Kopp responded, saying the decision was not easy and was well-researched.
Union Springs board member Tom Weaver Sr. said the merger started because neither district had enough wrestlers to field a team. He said Southern Cayuga pulled out of that merger once its wrestling team was large enough and left Union Springs wrestlers without a team.
“You dropped us,” he said.
Weaver expressed doubt about Southern Cayuga’s support over the past decade, referring to the merger as a “runaway train” and saying Southern Cayuga has had one foot in and one out.
“I don’t know if there’s truly been a commitment by Southern Cayuga since the merger started years ago,” he said.
Southern Cayuga parent Dale Mattoon said they can’t build a program by cutting modified teams, as they feed the JV and varsity squads. His suggestion was a complete merger between the two districts.
“I believe you should go all or none (when merging sports),” he said. “After great consideration, I believe you should go all. I think you should merge every single sport.”
Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll.