Football dropped at Snoqualmie Valley middle schools, students more interested in soccer
July 30, 2012 · 12:09 PM
Football won't be returning to Snoqualmie Valley School District middle schools when the students do, later this month.
The sport was been cut from all three middle schools' extra-curricular offerings this year, in a controversial decision made by the schools' coaches. Instead, the schools will offer boys soccer this fall.
"Everyone involved is disappointed, but I think we knew we'd eventually have to make this decision," Chief Kanim Middle School athletic director and football coach Mickey Fowler told the Record.
Participation numbers, not budget numbers, are what prompted the decision, Fowler said. Although Chief Kanim typically fielded about 50 interested seventh- and eighth-graders each year ("that made two nice-sized teams" Fowler said, a varsity and JV), turnout varied at the other competing schools in the middle schools' Triangle League. Tolt Middle School in particular struggled to meet the 10-player minimum for several of its games last season, causing them to forfeit two of the six games scheduled.
The Triangle League includes Snoqualmie, Riverview and the Mercer Island School District, but Mercer Island does not offer football, and Tolt dropped the sport last spring, after a survey of students on the upcoming football season.
"There was hardly any interest," Fowler said.
Tolt Middle School Athletic Director Tom Oldenburg declined to comment on the school's activities.
With only three schools prepared to offer football this fall, and declining numbers of students, the three schools' coaches reviewed their options. Competing outside of the league for games was possible, but few neighboring school districts offered middle school football, so students would have long travel times to Sultan, or Kings, and the program costs, already increasing by $15 to $140 this fall, would be higher.
Also, Fowler said, "Once Snoqualmie closes in a year, too, we'll have one less school."
Fowler will lose his coaching job this fall, since he doesn't coach soccer. Both coaches at the other two middle schools will be in the same position, making the call even tougher for all concerned.
"The thing that got me is there's 60 kids at Tolt that could participate in something, if we could offer boys soccer," Fowler said.
Interest in soccer is increasing in this district, too, he added. "According to the survey, we should have more kids (turning out) for soccer than football," he said, by about 45 percent.
The loss of middle-school football will trickle up, to Mount Si High School. Fowler said the program has had a good relationship with the high school program, and they worked together to develop students for high school, often running the same formations as the Mount Si Wildcats. That connection has weakened in recent years, as the middle schools put on their own summer football camps, Fowler said, but the relationship is good, and the decision was difficult.
Boys who are interested in playing football still can, though, through the community program Wildcat Youth Football (www.wcjfa.org).