On Wednesday, Aug. 26, the Central Valley Board of Education voted to allow wrestlers from Herkimer to participate on the Central Valley wrestling team for the 2015-16 school year.
Superintendent Rich Hughes made the recommendation, saying the decision was not taken lightly and that it involved weighing numerous factors.
“The first consideration for any sports merger is whether it will benefit or negatively impact our Thunder,” he said.
“In speaking with our coaches and athletic director, I learned we lost 16 wrestlers to graduation this past year, creating holes in our roster at a number of weight classes. Herkimer has a couple students looking to join our team that doesn’t have enough students to have their own team. Of those, only one is likely to compete at the Varsity level with any others wrestling JV. The prospective Varsity wrestler from Herkimer has taken part in our off-season program for years, even participating in booster club fundraisers for our athletes.”
Dr. Hughes also addressed community members who are upset over Herkimer resident rejecting the proposed three-school merger.
“As one person asked me, ‘Why should we help them out when they said no to the merger?’ My response is that these students did not have a part in that decision,” he said.
“When making the decision to recommend the wrestling merger, I made it on the merits of providing young men an opportunity to participate in the sport they love. A sport that requires the utmost discipline and perseverance. They have dedicated themselves with a passion we all should appreciate. Other schools have accepted our students. It’s only fair and just that we provide a few of our neighbors with an opportunity to participate by wearing the blue and yellow.
Long history of sharing sports benefits community athletes
He said the second consideration is to determine if merging a sport would provide opportunities for students. He cited numerous examples where Central Valley students have participated on other sports teams and others where other students have participated on Central Valley teams.
CVA athletes participate in other schools’ sports programs
This past spring sports season, Utica Notre Dame accepted a handful of CVA students to play on their lacrosse team.
“The lacrosse merger clearly benefited our students as they were able to try a sport without the school district having to take on the cost to create a whole new program at Central Valley,” said Dr. Hughes.
He added that the district would explore starting a CVA if interest in lacrosse grows in the future.
In another recent example, two CVA students played ice hockey on the Proctor High School team. He does not anticipate Central Valley ever having its own hockey team, but said it is important that interested students can take advantage of this opportunity.
Other schools’ athletes participate in Central Valley athletics
Although it is easy to accept the benefits of allowing Central Valley athletes to participate in programs at other schools, Dr. Hughes said the tougher decision comes when Central Valley hosts a merged team.
“This past year, we had a couple students from Frankfort-Schuyler participate on our boys’ golf and boys’ tennis. In golf, the student practiced and went to matches with our team, but played as a singleton for his home school. For tennis, the student from Frankfort-Schuyler played as part of the Central Valley team under our team colors. In this case we had lower numbers and had room for someone from another school without taking opportunities away from our students. Not one student from Central Valley was cut from the team and the increased competition was good for all students involved,” he said.
He noted the precedent for shared sports precedes the merger.
“Not too long ago, Mohawk accepted wrestlers from Richfield Springs to join their team. The move benefited everyone by filling gaps in the roster, allowing competition and providing opportunities to students,” Dr. Hughes said.