Freshman sports are expected to return to this fall after a six-year hiatus.
The inclusion of freshmen teams in the athletic program didn’t end because of budget cuts six years ago – there just wasn’t enough field space at the time. This year, the added programs won’t cost any more money because sports are funded entirely through user fees.
The plan became reality after a “extremely productive meeting” of the Recreation board and others last Monday.
“We brought all the interested parties to the table, rolled up our sleeves and worked it out,” said School Committee member Dacia Rubel, later adding: “We look forward to freshman sports again in the district.”
The desire to add freshman sports was one of the top items respondents said they wanted in a parent and community survey conducted earlier this year, Rubel said.
“This is an incremental approach to something the community wants action on,” Rubel told the School Committee when it met earlier in early June, when the plan was beginning to take flight. Her comment was met with applause for the audience at the meeting. Last week, the plan received the backing of the School Committee.
Matt Fox, the outgoing middle school and high school principal, said it may be hard to get a full soccer schedule this fall.
Rubel said Athletic Director Don Doucette will work out a schedule.
“It is a bit of a challenge because we are a little late,” Rubel said.
The coaches are expected to be hired shortly, too, Rubel said.
While Fox said initially the user fee was expected to be about $700 per player, last week Rubel said the budget had been reworked and the user fee would likely be under $500. A final number is expected to be announced on Tuesday by Doucette.
The newly purchased on Sagamore Street will be the freshman soccer program’s “dedicated area,” Rubel said.
Don Gallant, the School Committee’s longest serving member, said it was a lack of field space that prompted the School Committee to cut freshman sports.
“That has evidently been solved now,” Gallant said last week.