The district cited a declining turnout, rising costs for helmets and shoulder pads and a robust Thurston County Youth Football League as reasons for dropping football.As an earlier Olympian article pointed out, principals see it as a major cost saver, while coaches lament the opportunity to establish a healthy high school program--especially when not all kids can join youth leagues.
The controversial decision impacts Washington, Jefferson, Marshall and Reeves middle schools.
“It’s an unfortunate decision,” said Barry McKinnon, longtime football coach at Capital High School. “But I’m not surprised.”
Jeff Carpenter, athletic director for the Olympia School District, said other than Washington Middle School, the three other middle schools had a hard time fielding a team.
Bill Beattie, coach at Olympia High, is particularly upset about the choice to add soccer instead. Making this a zero sum game, where soccer gains at football's expense, is going to anger a lot of parents, even if it's the popular choice.
We won't really see the results of this decision for another three or four years. High school football numbers may drop because fewer students are joining early, making it difficult for the two schools to maintain their traditions of excellence on the gridiron. Or maybe not, as coaches find ways to become more involved in the youth leagues. Either way, it's going to be a difficult task.