Sports

District could get JV soccer next school year

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

High school soccer fans in Federal Way could have some more teams to cheer for in the fall.

A group of parents, along with high-school aged players, have been lobbying the school board to create junior varsity programs at the four high schools in the Federal Way district. In the past, Federal Way, Decatur, Thomas Jefferson and Todd Beamer high schools have been participating in only varsity-level soccer. Meaning only about 15 boys and girls in the talent-rich programs have been able to play high school soccer.

“It is the only sport in the Federal Way School District that does not have a JV team, while others have as many as three teams,” said Wendy Murray, a soccer parent who spoke at the June 22 school board meeting. “We are asking for equality throughout all sports in Federal Way schools.”

They will get their wish — maybe.

Assistant Superintendent Mark Davidson announced the district will be sending a recommendation to the board as part of its 2004-05 budget, which includes junior varsity soccer for both boys and girls next school year. The board is scheduled to vote on the budget at its Aug. 24 meeting.

“We believe there is significant interest in JV soccer,” said the district’s Chief Financial Officer Sally McLean.

Davidson’s soccer recommendation would allocate $55,000 toward eight junior varsity programs at the four high schools. The money would cover coaches, uniforms, referees, transportation and other miscellaneous costs.

“I believe due, in part, because of our group’s persistence on the matter,” Murray said.

The $55,000 was originally budgeted to start a Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) program at the high-school level. But, according to McLean, that program has been delayed until the 2005-06 school year because there were no spots available to start in the fall.

“This is very important,” said TJ boys coach Darren Sawatzky. “Take our program two years ago. We had one of the better teams around and I had to cut 42 players. I think the players I cut could have finished third or fourth in the (South Puget Sound League). And that’s 42 more kids that are out on the street and not in a team environment.”

Junior varsity soccer was scheduled to be implemented before the 2003-04 school year, but was taken out of the district’s budget because of a $6.4 million shortfall in state funding. The shortfall caused the district to start charging student/athletes $70 a sport at the high-school level.

Currently, football, basketball and volleyball have a total of three teams (varsity, JV and “C” team) in Federal Way, while wrestling, golf, wrestling, baseball, cross country and fastpitch have junior varsity programs.

Federal Way has always been a hotbed for soccer. The Jefferson and Decatur boys and the Federal Way girls have won multiple state championships and three of the four Federal Way schools advanced into the postseason during the spring.

The Federal Way Youth Soccer Association is currently responsible for over 2,000 kids on nearly 200 teams. The association allows kids ages 5 to 18 who live in Federal Way to play soccer.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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