Enrollment in the Crookston school district has declined and it appears to no longer support the amount of extracurriculars offered to Pirate students. With this in mind, the school district’s Long Range Planning Committee met at Crookston High School to discuss how to move forward.
Superintendent Jeremy Olson opened the discussion stating any action will be completed with the motivation of making the Crookston sports successful. Olson also said he does not get the sense anyone is looking at cutting academic extracurriculars as of now.
“I want to make sure what we choose to continue with is done at a level that is competitive, provides good opportunities for our kids and that we find a lot of success,” Olson said. “I want to be very diligent that we look at are these programs going in the right direction?"
Quality was a word tossed around in deciding how to move forward with certain extracurriculars, although none were singled out in this particular meeting.
On one hand, quality can be measured with win percentage. A counterargument to a subpar record comes in the form of the opportunities a certain sport brings to those playing it whether they win or not.
“Are we working towards something, or are we just plateauing,” Olson set as the benchmark for quality. “Do we have coaches that are getting kids in the weight room? Do we have coaches that are trying to work with kids outside of the sport? Do we have head coaches that are connecting with our youth sports and making sure that their philosophies are throughout? Do we have the participation? Are the kids coming out and supporting this sport?”
Touching on participation, Activities Director Greg Garmen stated numbers for certain activities are dancing around the bare minimum. For instance, Garmen said girls’ swimming is projected to have eight kids compete in the 2019 season, and eight will be necessary to continue the program.
Although 43% of high school students participate in a fall sport, 42% in winter and 43% in spring, the number of sports available minimizes the amount of athletes teams could have on their respective rosters.
When considering success, Garmen pointed out comparing one sport’s success to another proves difficult and recognized certain sports can advance a single athlete in postseason play, while others rely on the entire team to move on. For instance, the swimming team’s numbers are small, but they have still sent at least one individual to the state meet for the last few years.
“We’ve struggled as of late to be successful,” Garmen said on Pirate athletics as a whole. “How do we define that? Is it only wins and losses? I don’t think it is, but we keep score in all our events, and I think that’s important to a lot of people, especially as you start to lose a lot. People take note of that, start to rumble and ask what’s going on with the team. We want to win just as much as the next guy, and you work with what you have, and you try to make it as good as you can.”
Number of coaches available will play a role in which sports, if any, are discontinued. According to Garmen, the school announced six coaching vacancies for the upcoming fall and winter sports seasons and have heard back from two who expressed interest but did not apply.
Olson emphasized the point of coaches being part of the school staff and believes such will lead to larger student participation.
“How do you get more student participation,” Olson asked. “One, you have successful programs, and two, you have coaches that are embedded in the school. Your recruitment ability within that school is much greater for the coaches that are in here every single day.”
With no date set to officially cut a sport, School Board Chair Frank Fee ended the meeting asking administration to bring to the school board recommendations in order to move forward.
Other order of business included the plan to end a hockey co-op with Fisher. However, with this plan, the four female players originating from Mayville on the 2018-2019 Pirates girls' hockey roster will still be allowed to play for Crookston. Head Coach Tim Moe expects possibly six Mayville girls to wear Pirate uniforms in the 2019-2020 season. The co-op recommendation will go to the school board on Tuesday, May 28.