Dawn Rye | Writer
Football parents encourage their children and teammates and support the coaches and officials working with their children to promote a positive and enjoyable experience. However, during last week’s Parker School Board meeting, the room was filled with varsity and JV football parents concerned for the athletes on the football teams.
Ryan Wieman, the father of Landon, said the Parker junior high, junior varsity, varsity football games lack roster numbers. For several years, the lack of football players has been a problem at the junior high and junior varsity levels. He explained that the junior varsity has only participated in two games thus far and has forfeited the rest. On Friday, Oct. 1, Parker played McCook Central Montrose and their roster showcased 45 athletes compared to Parker’s 30 players to compete in 11-man football. McCook Central faced the same problem and formed a co-op with Montrose. Their co-op provided them with 10 more players. Wieman mentioned if the school continues to struggle with football athletes participating, the board needs to take a hard look at a co-op with Lennox, Viborg/Hurley, or Marion.
“I hate to bring this up, but our kids will face the same struggles at the junior varsity level in the coming years if we do not find more boys to participate,” commented Wieman.
Parent John Travnicek, the father of Ray, wrote a letter to the board stating something needs to change as the ability to compete decreases and morale decreases game by game. Questions athletes and parents have if numbers continue to drop are. 1). Will the team be competitive? 2). Will the athlete get to have a rewarding experience? 3). Will it be safe to participate? Travnicek believes the answer will continue to be no for many kids and parents if the numbers and ability to compete do not improve.
Dustin Haase, the father of Neil, noted he agrees with Wieman and is not looking for a state championship. However, the sports complex seems meaningless to the football players if they can’t play football.
Kerri Meyer, mom of Myles, has been impacted when it comes to football. It is not only football; junior high basketball has struggled with finding athletes and just enough players to play the games. She wants the board to understand what sports bring to an athlete and typically troublesome students are not athletes. If there is a drastic decrease in athletes, the students will stop participating because the program is not what it used to be.
Corey Flannery said he has coached in South Dakota and the junior football league and it is essential for him to get involved in teaching the athletes the fundamentals. His one requirement as an athletic coach is for them to give 100 percent of their effort.
He coaches his team about teamwork and how important it is throughout life. This is the perfect time to teach the students about the team and what being part of a team means and it’s going to be challenging in a sports program lacking athlete numbers.
Erin Patten, the mom of Charlie, commented that her son plays the entire game with not enough kids to give the athletes a break. He was hurt, and she understands that kids are going to get hurt. Parker has to have the numbers to compete and football is a numbers game. She doesn’t care if Parker co-ops but would rather have a safe, competitive team with plenty of athletes and something they are proud to be a team player.
After concerns were addressed, the board agreed to look into a solution after some discussion.