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July 06th, 2020

schneider and dolen school boardDedre Schneider and Kristen Dolen talk to the USD 480 school board Monday evening regarding beginning a girls wrestling program with the two USD 480 middle schools. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Girls wrestling took another step forward thanks to the USD 480 school board Monday evening. 

Staff members from Seymour Rogers Middle School and Eisenhower Middle School were on hand Monday evening to talk to the board about expanding the girls wrestling program to the middle school level. 

“This is something that has come up with the league a few times and basically the desire is there for girls wrestling to be a separate program and have it girls wrestling girls instead of having it co-ed like at some schools,” USD 480 Director of Secondary Education Joel Applegate said.

“Currently, the wrestling season we have runs concurrently with basketball, so if there are girls who want to go out for wrestling, they have to choose between the two because it doesn’t work out to do dual sports,” Seymour Rogers Middle School Asst. Principal Dedre Schneider said. “So what the league is proposing is having boys wrestling and girls basketball go from October to December, and then from January to March, depending on how the season actually goes, having girls wrestling and boys basketball. We currently have one less sport for our girls than what we offer for the guys, so by having girls wrestling as a standalone, those numbers would be equal for boys and girls. We wouldn’t need any new uniforms or anything like that because we’d use the same uniforms as the boys team, and we currently have enough of them. As far as coaches, what we had discussed is we would have one from Seymour Rogers Middle School and one from Eisenhower Middle School.”

Schneider then talked about some of her expectations. 

“We expect our numbers to be somewhat small for the first year, similar to any other program you just start since we’re going to be working on spreading the word about this being available,” Schneider said. “And something Kristen [Dolen] and I had talked about on the way to and from our athletic director meetings is the school with the smaller attendance numbers would do the majority of the traveling, but then at the actual meets we’d be separate teams like usual. We’ll also want the coaches to be familiar with both the teams so they both have that support.”

“Something else we’ve talked about is if there are girls who haven’t grown up doing the federation wrestling, they won’t be comfortable touching a boy in that way, and they won’t be comfortable being touched in that way either,” Dolen said. “That’s actually a reason we think a lot of girls don’t go out, because they’re hesitant about things like that. Whereas if they knew they were going to be wrestling only other girls, that hesitancy might not be there as much and they’ll be more willing to go out for the wrestling team. And that is important because at that age is when everything’s awkward and confusing. This would also be a great way to feeder into the high school program and develop that program further. For the purposes of tonight, the MSWAC League is asking each school district to discuss and get feedback from their local Board of Education if they are willing to start a girls wrestling program. Then the plan is we will report back to the MSWAC League your opinion and what you say tonight.”

The plan, Schneider continued, is for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 girls wrestling seasons to be a “transitional sport,” meaning there will be an emphasis on building, growing and an overall learning of the sport. In the 2021-2022 season, Schneider said, the KSHSAA will move forward with a full involvement of the sport as a recognized athletic activity at that time. The middle school programs hope to build and promote women’s wrestling. In previous years, Dolen said, the number of female participants in wrestling were around 10 to 15 combined. 

“I might sound kind of old-fashioned, but this kind of bothers me,” board member Naomi Vargas said. “Any time I heard of girls in my classes who wanted to wrestle, I’d ask them if it was something they really, truly wanted to do. Despite what I think though, I know I’ve got to get with the program, and I do support us doing this.”

“And the only real extra cost we might encounter is hair nets,” Schneider said. “A lot of our girls have longer hair and don’t want it used as a weapon during a match, so they need the chance to put it up and out of the way of their faces. But really, those are the only extra cost we might incur, and they don’t cost that much in the grand scheme of things.”

In other business, the board approved the purchase of stage risers for the Black Box Theater.   The stage risers for 102 seats is $14,845, with $6,730.24 to come from a donation and the remaining $8,114.76 to be paid with capital outlay funds. The board also approved fire alarm upgrades at Cottonwood Elementary School for $61,721, and also approved a proposal for the purchasing of band instruments from anonymous donation monies, with the grand total being $14,790.

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