By Tim Linscott
The Perkins County girls golf team had a Mulligan of sorts for next year as the Perkins County Schools board of education reversed a decision last month to combine the male and female golf squads.
The decision was rendered at the May 12 board meeting after board members cited new information about participation levels next year.
Last month the board decided to combine the two teams due to low participation levels anticipated next year as the crux of the decision. However factors also included cost, having three fall sports for girls at the school and keeping a teacher/sponsor out of the classroom during the season.
A number of students and parents were on hand at the school board meeting to plead the case of not combining both the girls and boys golf teams into the boys’ team in the fall.
Fred Reichert has had two daughters participate in golf at PCS and addressed the board with his concerns. His daughter, Amanda, was also on hand.
Reichert pointed out that by eliminating a sport in the fall many girls would not go out for volleyball or cross country, thus eliminating their opportunity to participate in a sport. He also noted that in the spring when boys and girls golf would take place, the girls would have to compete for a varsity spot against the boys, teeing off from the same spot, making it difficult for a female to be on varsity.
Reichert also talked with the board about the intangibles the game taught the young ladies on the team and the memories they created by representing PCS.
Among others addressing the board included Lexi Schmidt, a 2014 graduate of PCS. She gave an impassioned plea to the board as the game taught her perseverance and a real sense of confidence.
“Golf truly helped me,” Schmidt said.
Norma Jean Kuskie’s daughter, Janet, golfs on a scholarship at William Penn University in Iowa, and previously teed up and played for Perkins County. Kuskie felt that eliminating those scholarship opportunities for females was unjust.
PCS boys and girls golf coach, Troy Kemling, put in what he described as a ‘practical’ plea to the board. He asked the board to reconsider their decision as the level of boys wanting to go out for golf will likely swell in the next few years and adding the girls team could make the team stand at 18-20 players.
PCS activities director Carlie Wells conducted a survey among students to get a feel for participation levels next year. The survey revealed there would be three new players next year with one returning team member.
Reichert and other parents explained that two girls have now come forward and shown an interest in playing.
“We were told five wanted to play next year and with the returning player, that’s six players,” Reichert said, noting there only needs to be four players to make up a team.
PCS school board member, Ryan Hendricks, brought forward his notion to reconsider combining the two squads based on the testimony of the audience and new information divulged at the meeting.
“I think we are dealing with more information than we had at the last meeting. Our numbers seem to be different than the last meeting show,” Hendricks said.
School board member Jayson Bishop said the decision to combine the golf squads was not made easily and several other activities, including wrestling, were also considered for the chopping block. Staff members at the last board meeting spoke up as parents wanting to keep the wrestling program.
The recommendation of the administration was to keep the girls golf team next year separate from the boys.
The open talk about combining the teams was good in Bishop’s opinion.
“I appreciate everyone showing up tonight. We didn’t have the same information as before. I have changed my mind and it looks like we have more interest than we thought before,” Bishop said, however, adding that the numbers of girls in several of the upper elementary grades that would eventually get into high school to compete in girls golf may make having a team difficult.
Hendricks asked parents to stay vigilant and passionate about the sport and encourage those wanting to go out for golf to recruit.
“I know girls golf has had low numbers in the past. We have a duty to the taxpayers and can’t continue to have offerings without participation,” Hendricks said, addressing the players. “If you love golf, recruit. Take a friend golfing or invite them to a camp, try to recruit them to join.”
Shawn Turner, PCS school board president, explained that if numbers dip again, the likelihood of saving the program would be bleak.
“If it comes this fall and only two girls show up for the team, that will probably be it,” he said. “If you guys want to save this program, you need to get involved as parents, see that those girls are out golfing this summer and they will be here this fall.”
“Give us a chance. If we fail, then fine, but we need a chance,” Reichert said.
Bishop explained another option the district could consider, if numbers are low enough a full team can’t be posted, is to form a cooperative with another district.
The board agreed unanimously to reverse their decision and keep the girls golf team in the fall and boys golf in the spring.
Wells had not informed the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) about the change, stating he wanted to wait until the May meeting to see if board members would change their minds. There will be no scheduling conflicts due to the delay in informing the NSAA.
Whatever the topic or discussion, Hendricks expressed a need for more participation from patrons at meetings.
“We like public input. Come to meetings, be passionate,” he said.