MFL MarMac adding soccer

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

MFL MarMac high school students will have the opportunity to compete in soccer starting next spring. The school board, at its Feb. 13 meeting, unanimously approved sanctioning the sport.

Athletic director Erik Peterson said MFL MarMac would likely field both boys and girls programs. Eleven players are needed to compete on the field, but he believes 16 would be an attainable number given feedback from current and incoming high school students. Several staff members are already interested in coaching.

Peterson estimated the program start-up cost would be around $20,000.

“The Booster Club is fully behind us to get us going and get the things we need,” he said. “After the initial year, you’re maybe looking at jerseys every other year. There’s really not a long, ongoing cost other than coaching salaries.”

Opponents would include Clayton Ridge, Postville, North Fayette Valley, Decorah, Sumner-Fredericksburg and New Hamptonn—districts who already have established programs.

“[Travel] wouldn’t be terribly far,” Peterson said. “You could have a 10-game schedule but play the same five schools. Then there are weekend tournaments that would be great exposure” to other teams.

According to Peterson, the soccer season would last six to seven weeks, depending on the weather, from April through May.

Because of the timing, one of the biggest concerns is soccer’s impact on track and field and golf participation. MFL MarMac— similar to neighboring districts—could allow athletes to participate in two sports at the same time, said Peterson.

“I think kids would really benefi t from both. The coaches would have to work together,” he stated. “The real big picture, for me, is the opportunity for students. Giving another program for the kids to play would positively increase our student involvement.”

“Would we lose kids, potentially, from the track program? Yes,” Peterson added. “But your kids who are golfers, your kids who are track runners, you’re not going to lose them. You’re not going to lose your devoted kids to the sport. You are going to lose some of the kids who might just want to try it.”

Another concern is playing on the football. Although practice would not be held on the grass, roughly five or six games would take place. But Peterson said MFL MarMac football coach Dan Anderson is not worried.

Board members asked additional questions about MFL MarMac youth participation in soccer. Bulldog Youth Rec last spring off ered a soccer camp for the fi rst time, with 136 participants from grades kindergarten through seventh. Many youth also play in leagues in other communities, stated Jessica Peterson, a teacher, Bulldog Youth Rec board member and former soccer player.

“The more you have older students for those kids to look up to, the easier we’re going to have getting kids to take an interest in soccer,” she added.

Erik Peterson agreed. “This would give Bulldog Rec the indication to build on it, it’s here, let’s get those kids out and keep it rolling in a positive direction. The enthusiasm is there from the younger ages and we’ve talked to kids in the high school,” he said.

He also believes off ering soccer could sustain or increase enrollment when families consider MFL MarMac’s slate of extracurricular activities compared to neighboring school districts.

“I think of it as enrollment and sustainability for the district. It could keep families here and encourage enrollment,” Peterson said.

Scoreboards to be replaced

At last week’s meeting, the board directed Peterson to move forward with purchasing scoreboards for the high school gym. The current boards are old and the side panels have not functioned for most of the season. The cost to replace both boards and include lights on the back boards would be approximately $28,000.

Staffing changes approved

Several staffing changes were approved at last week’s meeting, including a contract for LeVirgil Monroe as the new head softball coach. The board accepted resignations from Pat Wille for high school physical education, Angie Pape for volleyball and Brent Pape for middle school wrestling. Angela Rumph is transferring from head volleyball coach to ninth grade volleyball coach.

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