The four Federal Way high schools will be reinstating junior varsity boys soccer and C-team girls volleyball for the 2014-15 school year.
“We are very excited,” said Vince Blauser, the executive director of secondary education for Federal Way Schools. “I’m one that believes that athletics play a significant role in students’ lives.”
The momentum started building for adding junior varsity boys soccer this spring after the district received feedback from parents.
The four Federal Way high schools got rid of JV boys soccer in the early 2000’s because of budget cutbacks. There is also a rule that allows each school to only keep 22 kids on their varsity team rosters, meaning numerous soccer players either don’t turn out or are cut from the teams at Decatur, Federal Way, Beamer and Jefferson.
As an example, Thomas Jefferson, who has won a state-record eight big-school titles, was forced to cut over 40 kids this spring because there wasn’t a JV program. The number of boys turning out at Federal Way, Decatur and Beamer are similar, meaning over 80 kids didn’t have the chance to play soccer for their schools this spring.
“When kids started getting cut, parents and (athletic directors) brought this to my attention,” Blauser said. “We met to examine the issues raised in this proposal and have developed a plan.”
The Federal Way school district has been a hotbed for soccer for a long, long time. Actually, it’s probably the hottest bed in the state of Washington for soccer, thanks to players like Lamar Neagle, Kelyn Rowe and Sean Okoli. All three are currently on Major League Soccer (MLS) rosters.
The addition of C-team volleyball at the four high schools will keep the district in compliance with Title IX, which is a national mandate that holds school district accountable for equity in gender opportunities in athletics.
“We looked at it and our biggest need was in C-team volleyball,” Blauser said. “So we reinstated that, as well. It all came with a successful outcome.”
According to Blauser, the district is also going to look into possibly adding girls water polo to their sports lineup next year. There are currently several schools in the South Puget Sound League that offer girls water polo.
“We are actually one of the few districts that doesn’t have water polo,” he said. “We are going to explore it and find out what the interest level is. We may have to combine schools to create teams and figure out a financial package. But the (athletic directors) are jumping on board and we will see what the interest is. We are excited about the possibility.”
The Title IX compliance question was brought up back in 2011 when the school district and U.S. Department of Education entered into an agreement after an allegation was filed that Federal Way wasn’t offering equal sports opportunities for girls.
That complaint essentially led to the district adding girls-only wrestling and bowling to its roster of sporting opportunities. Now, Beamer, Jefferson, Decatur and Federal Way offer 12 sports throughout the year for girls. In contrast, 10 sports are offered for boys only.
Before the 2012-13 school year, the Federal Way school district started offering girls-only bowling and wrestling, which helped close Federal Way’s gap of students participating in athletics.
During the 2010-11 school year, Federal Way’s school population was made up of 51.4 percent boys and 48.6 percent girls. In contrast, the percentage of students participating in athletics was 40.6 female and 59.4 percent male at the four Federal Way high schools.
Title IX states that the gender percentages of the overall student population should match the percentage of students participating in athletics, which means the Federal Way school district is out of compliance with Title IX.