The Sioux County school board Monday approved the possibility of cooperating with Crawford Public Schools to offer golf and girls’ basketball for two years beginning with the 2022-23 academic year.
High School Principal Barry Swisher, who also serves as athletic director and the previous girls’ basketball coach, said the approval doesn’t represent a concrete commitment at this point, but gives the district options. As of Monday, the basketball team has just five returning players that will commit to basketball for this season and that drops to four next year. Students who don’t normally join the team would need to commit in order for Sioux County to keep its own squad.
The Nebraska School Activities Association requires any co-op agreement for this year be submitted to the state by Sept. 1. In order for that to happen, both districts must approve the arrangement at their August board meetings. Swisher asked students and parents to commit to girls’ basketball at the school’s fall sports parents’ meeting Thursday to determine team numbers and go over the options.
“I want to at least have the option (to co-op),” Swisher said, “And I want to protect the possibilities for the kids that do want to play,” he told the board earlier this week.
Chris Klein, who coaches boys’ basketball and has a daughter on the girls’ basketball team, said he has been a proponent of co-oping for some time. The boys’ team has suffered from low numbers for a couple of years. While Sioux County still fielded a basketball team, the competitive level suffered, and under those circumstances it’s difficult to convince students to spend time in the gym or weight room over the summer because they know they will play no matter what. Injuries were always a concern, as one injury could mean forfeiting games or the season, he said. Finally, it also gives students a choice of whether to play or not, as in past years students who might not have wanted to join a team did so just so there could be a team, he said.
Klein will serve as the girls’ basketball coach for Sioux County if a team can be fielded, and will help coach the Crawford Rams if the districts combine the sport for the next two years.
Parent Jessica Turbiville inquired as to whether there would be an option for the students from both districts to select a joint school mascot and colors. Swisher said at this point, the Sioux County students would play as Crawford Rams because the contract is only being proposed for specific sports for a two-year period.
“We haven’t talked about anything else,” Swisher said.
Should the two districts move forward with co-oping girls’ basketball, Sioux County would provide a vehicle to transport them to practices. The one or two students interested in participating in golf in the spring would be responsible for getting themselves to practice, Swisher said.
Parents at the meeting Thursday expressed a desire to keep a Sioux County team if at all possible, but several voiced support for doing what needed to be done to allow students to play.
Swisher said he will make a determination Monday on the direction the district will go after parents and students have had a chance to discuss it and turn in their commitments. The Crawford school board meets Monday evening and must approve any agreement at that time if the co-oping moves forward.