A dream came true Wednesday night for members of the Highland Soccer League.
After years of organizing and petitioning the school board to have soccer accepted as an official school sport, board members approved high school soccer as a a school sanctioned sport at their Nov. 4, 2015 regular board meeting.
This came after a 20-minute presentation to the board by Highland’s new athletic director Mike Delaney. Delaney had been meeting with parents, organizers and athletic directors in districts that already have soccer to research the cost, scheduling and feasibility of becoming an OHSAA school sponsored sport.
“I am recommending that we add both Boys and Girls Soccer for the 2016-2017 School year,” he told the board. “My recommendation comes after much deliberation and thought.”
Delaney noted there were 16 boys and 15 girls who played soccer this year for the Highland Soccer League and who are interested in playing soccer next year for Highland High School. He had spoken to several athletic directors and soccer coaches about the numbers they have to start a program.
“Each of them stated that the numbers we have would be sufficient to start both a boys and girls program,” he said.
He had a meeting with the soccer parents and players on October 21 and said the response from those 70-plus people was very positive. He said he explained to them what is involved with becoming a school sponsored sports program and the different rules that govern High School sports in Ohio.
Delaney said in terms of a scheduling, both the boys and girls would be able to play a 16 game schedule. Other athletic directors and coaches suggested they play between 12-14 games. Because of this, Delaney contacted the MOAC Red Division about joining that side of the league soccer for the 2016-2017 season.
Highland’s Soccer league would consist of Jonathan Alder, Buckeye Valley, River Valley, Pleasant, East Knox and Marion Harding on the boy’s side. The same schools would be on the girl’s side with the exception of East Knox, who does not have a girl’s soccer team at this time. That would allow 12 Boy’s League Matches and 10 Girl’s League Matches.
Delaney would then schedule 2 or 3 matches for both the boys and girls, giving them 12-14 matches for the season. The estimated cost of transportation for the boys and girls soccer teams will be close to $700.00 for the Athletic Department.
Uniforms for each of the teams would be needed. It was decided that, initially, the cost of the uniform would be picked up by the athletes, something players are accustomed to in soccer and expected by the parents involved. To keep the cost down, the first year players would only be wearing blue uniforms for home and away matches. This would require players to only buy one set of uniforms the first year. A nice Adidas uniform (Socks/Shorts/Jersey) would cost $60-70.00. The uniform would be a stock uniform that players would keep and wear for as many years as they play soccer. The cost would be a one-time fee.
Home games would be played on the football field. This would allow for charged admission and for scheduling games later in the evening which, Delaney explained, is how the MOAC Red Division likes to schedule their matches. Both the boys and girls would practice on the Highland Park field.
A set of portable goals with wheels to use on the football field would need to be purchased as well as extra medical supplies, hiring officials, flags for the corners of the field and soccer balls.
In terms of coaching the teams, the decision to hire the boy’s and girl’s Head Soccer coach would be the responsibility of the school district and that there is no guarantee that those currently coaching the club teams would be hired as the Head Coaches. Delaney said he would begin an immediate search for Head Boys and Girls coaches so they could get acclimated to their new positions as soon as possible. The cost of both Head coaches salaries is estimated at $6,800.00 combined.
Victor Wiley has been involved with the program for nine years and was all smiles after the meeting.
“Now the work begins!” he said.
Former long-time Athletic Booster President Erik Hertz, also a member of the Highland Park Board, worked with Wiley on the soccer league project for years.
“Victor and I spent a lot of evenings dissecting this thing every which way you can imagine,” he said afterward. “Victor did most of the work gathering the legal entities to make the presentation, and Mike Delaney did one heck of a presentation, culminating all the information. I’m pretty proud to still be part of the Highland community.”
Reach Randa Wagner at 419-946-3010, ext. 1803 or on Twitter@MorrCoSentinel.