Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 12, 2017

Community split on whether to allow Danville to join Panther football, board to vote in December

Nov 28, 2017

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News

 

If the Mt. Pleasant School Board was looking for a clear, resounding decision from the community on whether to allow students from Danville Community School District to participate in Panther football, they were left just as undecided as before the special session Monday night.

Last year, Danville was forced to forfeit a number of games due to injury leaving them with a small squad. This year, knowing they wouldn’t be able to field a full team, the district joined with West Burlington. However, due to the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s (IHSAA) redistricting, West Burlington has decided to sever ties with Danville as it would force them to continue to play Class 3A football instead of moving into Class 2A. This has left Danville students without a team to play on.

Earlier this month, Activities Director Scot Lamm approached the board to see if the district would be open to combining teams. Lamm said Danville has approached Burlington and Ft. Madison as well, but would prefer to have their students on the Panther team. Danville students currently participate in soccer and bowling at Mt. Pleasant. However, before making any decision, board members wanted to hear from the public.

Board members Chuck Andrew, Willy Amos and Karl Barun all said they had been contacted by community members and parents regarding the possible sharing agreement. Andrew said the comments he heard were 50-50 on whether Danville should be allowed to play with Mt. Pleasant. “Some parents are concerned their kids may not get to play and others feel we should be a good neighbor,” he recounted.

As for Amos, he said about 75 percent of the comments he received were against the agreement. “The biggest concern was, just like our program, the bottom grades will (have the highest turnout),” said Amos. “The concern for seventh- and eighth-grade parents is there were plenty of kids already standing on the sidelines.”

According to Lamm, Danville is projected to have five seniors, juniors and freshmen and six sophomores go out for football next year. In middle school, he is projecting roughly 10 eighth-graders and a dozen seventh-graders.

Lamm said having Danville on the team would boost Mt. Pleasant’s numbers and allow the district to continue playing at all three levels — varsity, junior varsity and freshman. Lamm said his hope is to schedule nine games for each level. However, due to shrinking team size, he has only been scheduling 14 games total for junior varsity and freshman.

“One advantage of getting back to playing nine at each level would be allowing those kids to stay at their level of play. Keeping the freshman playing freshman games instead of JV games,” he said.

School board members wondered if it would even be possible to schedule nine games for each level if other Iowa schools are having the same recruitment problems. If most schools don’t have squads large enough for three levels, what’s the point to boosting Mt. Pleasant’s numbers by adding Danville?

Community member Bob Evans said he felt it was important for Mt. Pleasant to be the leader he always saw the district as.

“I think it would be a shame if a kid wanted to play football and didn’t get a chance to play,” said Bob Jensen. “I think it’s a great sport and teaches a lot of lessons beyond just being a football player. It teaches you to be a good teammate, to work with others and man, when you’re sharing with another school, there’s another lesson there.”

Don Lamm agreed, adding the game of football calls for a lot of kids out on the field at any one time. “You play 11 on offense, 11 on defense and have another six or seven on the kickoff team,” said Don. “I don’t see four or five kids per class cutting out on Mt. Pleasant kids playing because you need numbers in that sport.”

Other questions posed to Lamm included how the kids would train — at Mt. Pleasant or at Danville — and who would provide transportation. Lamm said in his talks with the coaches and athletic directors they said these were all items that “worked themselves out” and that the parents were heavily involved and supported the program.

As for financial incentives, Lamm said Danville paid West Burlington $7,000 for their kids to play on the Falcon team. Current sharing agreements with Danville do not include any monetary incentive. However, the sharing agreement with WACO for baseball does provide funding for an assistant coach. However, Lamm noted football requires a lot of equipment per player.

Football head coach Shawn Striegel said he was in favor of Danville joining the Panther football team. “I think they would be a good partner,” he said.

The board will not make a decision until the Dec. 11 board meeting. Superintendent John Henriksen said the Iowa High School Athletic Association has been contacted and since this is not a redistricting decision a commitment would not have to be made by Dec. 4.

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