Are remaining schools feeling “a little pressure”? Tonight, the Rapid City School Board has voted unanimously to sanction soccer for 2014. They followed two school districts – Sioux Falls and
Add Hot Springs School District to the list of schools that have sanctioned high school soccer for the fall 2014 season! At last night’s Hot Springs School Board meeting,
Earlier this month, the newly-formed Black Hills Soccer Club announced its affiliation with the Colorado Rapids. We put together a short story about this and were waiting until the Black
Will other school districts join? Or will they continue the campaign of procrastination until the last possible moment? Kevin Olson sat quietly beside Frank Gurnick Monday night while the
Monday night, the largest school district in South Dakota is expected to approve soccer as a sanctioned sport. There will be a vote to add soccer, but it will not
Tonight, the Rapid City School Board has voted unanimously to sanction soccer for 2014. They followed two school districts – Sioux Falls and Hot Springs – that sanctioned soccer Monday night. Sioux Falls will have full-blown sanctioned soccer in 2014, while Hot Springs took the option of becoming a transition school, taking their process over five years. We’ll report the details of their resolution as soon as we can get them.
Only a few weeks ago, most South Dakota school boards had a pretty casual relationship with soccer. Really, it was the best of both worlds for them. They had teams wearing the school colors and using the school names. Many of the programs had top-notch coaches running the programs and it did not cost the school district a cent to enjoy those benefits.
In a week, the situation has changed dramatically.
With the sudden avalanche of schools sanctioning soccer in South Dakota, the schools that have been holding back, waiting for the last possible moment must be feeling an incredible amount of pressure tonight.
In addition to Hot Springs, Sioux Falls, and Rapid City, other school districts who made the decision earlier to adopt sanctioned high school soccer this fall are Brandon Valley, Belle Fourche & Sturgis.
These actions leave a few schools on the outside, looking in.
Huron, Pierre, Yankton, and Brookings – all ESD schools – are now on the hot plate. No one wanted or asked to be there – that’s just the way it has turned out.
This morning, the Sioux Falls area schools – we call them the Metro League – got together and hammered out their schedules. For most of them, it will be a Sioux Falls league playing the Sioux Falls teams twice and adding in Aberdeen. With their sanctioning move, the Rapid City schools will fill out the schedules. This puts a lot of pressure on those ESD schools that have not made the move yet.
So, here is a new update, based on calls and emails from our friends around the state.
Brookings – All indications are that they will sanction – or at least become a transition school – at the May 12th meeting.
Pierre – Nothing new to report. Soccer was not listed on the pubished Pierre school board agenda for last night’s meeting. Pierre School District is expected to stick to the 2015 date – but is one of the schools that has been in the “let’s wait to see what everyone else does” mode.
Spearfish – As we mentioned in our earlier report, last night the Spearfish school board tabled action on the 2014 season until next month. Earlier in the year, the board had voted to begin with the 2015 season. Add them to the list of “wait and see” schools. They waited, and we’ve seen three school districts last night and tonight move forward. Now we’ll have to see what action Spearfish will take next month.
Watertown – The Soccer605 people there tell us that they have good support for sanctioning, but some minority very outspoken opposition. We’ll see if an outspoken minority can overcome the support of a quiet majority there.
Yankton – Our Soccer605 people are telling us there that there is support in the school board. They had the opportunity to produce an outcome Monday night, but deferred until the May meeting. No doubt, they are in all sorts of negotiations with the other ESD schools who have not made the sanctioning move yet. Our local sources are telling us that there was plenty of agreement to sanction in 2015, but with the Sioux Falls move the 2014 season is in play and they want to take as much time as possible to make the decision.
Chamberlain – Circles around the state seem to agree that the high school soccer program that has the most to lose through sanctioning is probably Chamberlain. With a fairly new high school program and soccer program, Chamberlain may not have the community support yet to make the transition. We’re hoping for a pleasant surprise from the Chamberlain School Board – the kids who have played in Chamberlain have dedicated so much and we’d like to see them have the opportunity to continue their program.
Custer – Our sources tell us that Custer opted to not join the 2014 sanctioning movement during last night’s School Board meeting. This does not mean there will be no soccer in Custer, just that the 2014 season is not an option for them as of now. You have to wonder who they will play, now that every other West River team will be playing in the sanctioned category?
Huron – We have nothing new to add to what we reported earlier but will reiterate – by offering sanctioned soccer in the high school, we believe that the Huron school district will be in a better position to serve their unique population, connect them more to the school and improve student outcomes.
Vermillion – The Vermillion Soccer Community has been actively seeking community support for sanctioned high school soccer, but we have not heard favorable reports toward that end. As with Custer on the west side of the state, we wonder who will be left for Vermillion to play if they don’t sanction by this fall. West Central?
West Central – Although earlier reports out of West Central have remained adamant that sanctioning was not an option, sources now tell us they do expect the West Central girls’ team to become a sanctioned program in 2014. Gymnastics was on the published School Board agenda for last week, but no mention of soccer. West Central has not had a boys’ team.
Real or perceived, the reasons given by school districts NOT to sanction soccer are going up in smoke. And as Wes Storm, President of Black Hills Rapids Soccer Club, said so aptly the other day, “Soccer is a growing sport that is here to stay, and I would think that school districts would want to take control of their high school soccer programs. I believe it (sanctioned soccer) is in the best interests of the kids and the sport.”
Additionally, the ability for South Dakota Soccer Association to provide a viable club high school season for the few remaining teams is fast fading as well. Especially with the geographic distribution of the few remaining holdouts.
We all understand that change can be hard – especially when it happens suddenly. But folks, this isn’t sudden. We have been moving toward a sanctioned high school soccer season in South Dakota since 1997. Let’s get it done.
Add Hot Springs School District to the list of schools that have sanctioned high school soccer for the fall 2014 season!
At last night’s Hot Springs School Board meeting, the Board unanimously approved this item #13 under new business on their agenda:
Discussion and Action / Approval to Sanction Soccer
Recommendation: It is recommended the Governing Board discuss and take action to approve the sanctioning of Soccer through a five-year phase in plan.
They did discuss it – and took action to approve! Congratulations Hot Springs School Board on providing this opportunity for your students! And to Hot Springs Bison Soccer Players, Coaches & Families – Woo-hoo! Well done!
Earlier this month, the newly-formed Black Hills Soccer Club announced its affiliation with the Colorado Rapids. We put together a short story about this and were waiting until the Black Hills Rapids announced their technical director. Our money was on South Dakota School of Mines head coach Joe Burger and we were spot on there! Congratulations Coach Burger!
On Thursday, we will host several people involved in the transition team and who will be running the new club on a Google Hangout live at 5:00 p.m. Central time. We hope you will join us on the Soccer605TV You Tube channel.
If you have a question you would like us to ask, just use the comment form below or contact us through the Contact Form. We’ll post a link for you soon.
Will other school districts join? Or will they continue the campaign of procrastination until the last possible moment?
Kevin Olson sat quietly beside Frank Gurnick Monday night while the Sioux Falls School Board voted unanimously to adopt the proposed budget before them. As budgets go, it was a pretty standard budget, but it meant something more than that for Kevin.
For about ten years, Olson has worked tirelessly to bring the story of sanctioned soccer to the Sioux Falls School District. Acceptance has been hard to find and allies inside the school system have been scarce. But Olson carried on day after day, month after month, year after year with his mission.
As School Board Member Todd Thoelke mentioned after the Sioux Falls School Board voted unanimously to pass the budget that includes sanctioned soccer, “It was never about not wanting soccer. It was about making things right when budgets were being cut and teachers were taking a hit.”
One part of the victory that Thoelke relishes the most, however is the ability of the school district to connect more with a large segment of the school population. “By sanctioning soccer, we will be able to create more pathways to students walking across that stage and receiving their diplomas,” he said.
Following the vote, Soccer605 visited with Thoelke, along with Kevin Olson and Frank Gurnick of the Dakota Alliance Soccer Club. Those interviews are included at the bottom of this story.
So Monday night, the Sioux Falls School Board took that important step toward sanctioning. Now there is a rush across the state to get sanctioning agreements in place - without these agreements, the few remaining schools could be left with no opponents.
We had jokingly put a picture of dominos beginning to fall in our Sunday article. Tonight, it’s an avalanche. We had always heard the Sioux Falls district was the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room and had called on them to provide leadership in the sanctioned high school soccer movement. Now they have come to the table and it’s looking more and more that they are the sixteen-hundred-pound gorilla. With Sioux Falls adopting sanctioned high school soccer, there is a lot of chaos across the state. This is not Sioux Falls’ fault. It is the fault of board after board across the state, and their tendencies to wait for the final drop-dead moment that they are forced to do something.
The SDHSAA is proving once again that they are a flexible and results–oriented organization. The drop-dead date for a sanctioning agreement has been extended to May 15th and this is giving some of the remaining outsiders a little breathing room – or in some cases more time to drag the inevitable out until the final moment.
Following is what we have learned tonight to share with you. We are grateful to our Soccer605 posse members for providing us with updates from across the state. YOU are Soccer605!
Spearfish – Even though Spearfish earlier had agreed to begin playing sanctioned soccer in 2015, there was a motion presented tonight (Monday) to begin in 2014. That motion has been tabled until May.
Yankton –We have felt all along that Yankton will join the sanctioned soccer ranks eventually, but have never had the impression that the school board there was pro-sanctioning. Yankton School Board was to be presented with a three-pronged proposal from Yankton Soccer Association tonight (Monday) and have also tabled their decision until May.
Brookings – We get the idea that the SDHSAA extension had much to do with Brookings. As everyone in the state began to understand that Sioux Falls would sanction, Brookings was one program that wanted to accelerate the process. But publication rules prohibited adding an agenda item to the April meeting, so that proposal will appear on the Brookings School Board’s May 12th meeting agenda.
Rapid City – The RCAS School Board will consider a sanctioning resolution at the Tuesday meeting. RCAS may be tempted to follow some of the other districts’ leads and table their decision until their May meeting. We hope not – we look to Rapid City Schools, as the second largest school district in the state, to provide leadership in the Black Hills, and not be a follower of the smaller districts. With Sioux Falls adopting sanctioned high school soccer, RCAS should have the path cleared to set the wheels in motion and move forward.
Watertown – Of all the AA schools, Watertown has some special circumstances. They are preparing for the loss of two major employers in Watertown and the school board there has never shown any favor toward soccer. There is a good chance that we may see Watertown playing recreational soccer with only themselves for competition in the foreseeable future. There has not been one positive sign of sanctioning come out of Watertown and we are feeling some remorse for the students there who will likely be left out in the cold.
NOTE 4-15-14 1:05 p.m. Central Time:
After reading this article, a couple of our Watertown friends called to say that we may not have the proper perspective on the situation in Watertown and we want to thank them for giving us a wider perspective on the situation there. Apparently there is some strong support on their School Board for sanctioning, but there is also some very outspoken opposition to sanctioning, as well.
There is undoubtedly plenty of conversation going on between Watertown and the other ESD schools that have not sanctioned to see what they can do to move the process forward. So we do want to expand our analysis here to reflect this new information to let you know and to be as fair as we can to our friends in Watertown. Our remorse level just went down quite a bit. Time will tell!
Huron – There are complaints coming out of the Huron school district about the five-year window. When the SDHSAA provided a five-year window a few years ago when they first allowed sanctioned soccer, apparently some districts, including Huron, thought it would be five years before they actually had to do something about it. Huron has some issues with student population diversity and household income levels. Ironically, these exact populations are better served by sanctioned high school soccer.
Pierre – We have heard all along that Pierre will join in 2015. As of this writing, word is that there will be no change to that schedule. There is still no vote in Pierre, but every bit of information we are getting from numerous sources there says that 2015 is the year for Pierre.
The A division schools are in an even worse situation. In the A girls division, with Sturgis and Belle Fourche both approving sanctioned high school soccer agreements, that leaves only two teams remaining non-sanctioned – West Central and Vermillion. It will be impossible to put a season together for these teams who are on the outside looking in. And the boys are in equal disarray.
Right now it may look like a chaotic game of “Follow The Leader” – but it really is more a game of “Follow The Procrastinator”. The true leaders in the high school soccer game are going into their third sanctioned season this fall.
The next year or two will undoubtedly have some growing pains and in some cases will be rough around the edges. But today there are thousands of sixth graders who will never know about the beginnings of sanctioned soccer in South Dakota. The sport will become comfortably embedded in many South Dakota schools and it will seem like a natural part of these students’ activities.
Until then we need to have patience, but insistence that school boards do the right thing for these students.
Monday night, the largest school district in South Dakota is expected to approve soccer as a sanctioned sport. There will be a vote to add soccer, but it will not be an up-or-down vote on just soccer.
The Sioux Falls school board will be considering and voting on the 2015 budget. Soccer is included in that budget as an added budget item. As we understand it, Monday night’s board meeting will serve as a public hearing on the 2014-2015 school budget – the inclusion of soccer is a simple addition to the expenditures, along with five or six other items.
For the past two months, there have been murmurs across the state that this was going to happen in Sioux Falls, but due to the sensitive nature of the discussions, and out of respect for those who have worked so diligently toward this worthy goal, we felt it was in the best interests of the players and the sport to exercise journalistic restraint. With inclusion of soccer in the budget on the Sioux Falls School Board’s published agenda for Monday night, we feel it is time to share the news.
In a phone conversation with Mike Meile, Sioux Falls Schools’ Athletic Director, two weeks ago, we learned that Superintendent Pam Homan had approved the addition of soccer to the school budget. A couple of months earlier we heard through our network that the Sioux Falls schools had asked the athletic directors at other sanctioned schools to wait a while before completing their scheduling – to make room for the three schools that would be coming in.
John Krogstrand with the South Dakota High School Activities Association told us that one way or another, Sioux Falls would have to declare that they were either in or out by later in April. So a lot of people knew about this, but just couldn’t talk about it. Such is the nature of politics and the public sector.
Click on the link on that line item to view the budget.
Here is a link to the live stream of the Sioux Falls school board meeting. The meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 Central time on Monday evening, April 14th.
That’s not the only news. It also appears that the Rapid City school board may also be ready to join the party. We have included links to a recommended resolution that will be considered by the Rapid City school board. We reached Wes Storm, President of Black Hills Rapids Soccer Club, by phone for his reaction to Rapid City Area School Board’s resolution agenda item and the inclusion of sanctioned soccer in the Sioux Falls School District budget for 2014-15.
“I’d like to see both school districts move forward with sanctioned soccer,” said Storm. “Soccer is a growing sport that is here to stay, and I would think that school districts would want to take control of their high school soccer programs. I believe it (sanctioned soccer) is in the best interests of the kids and the sport.”
The resolution that is on the agenda for consideration at the RCAS Board Meeting on Tuesday night is simple – even a bit ambiguous – but you can clearly see the intent that Rapid City Area Schools want to move forward and not be the last school district in the state to offer sanctioned high school soccer. It isn’t clear who will have the honor of presenting this resolution – but it is on the published agenda, so we will know by Tuesday night just how serious RCAS is about sanctioning soccer. The vote is scheduled to take place on Tuesday night, April 15th. The meeting starts at 5:30 pm Mountain Time.
If both Sioux Falls School District and Rapid City Area Schools adopt sanctioned high school soccer this week, as is expected, the remaining school districts that are clinging to club soccer will be hard-pressed to speed up their timelines and follow suit.
UPDATE 8:15PM Central Time on 4/13/14: We have now learned that Spearfish School District will be considering action at their meeting tomorrow evening, April 14th, to accelerate their timeframe to offer sanctioned high school soccer a year earlier than planned – this fall!
Link to Spearfish School Board Agenda – VII. Action Item C
Additionally, Yankton School Board will be considering a proposal tomorrow evening, April 14th, to adopt sanctioned high school soccer. Yankton Soccer Association will be presenting three different funding options for the school board to consider.
Link to Yankton School Board Agenda – Item 12
Thank you to our Soccer605 Posse for getting this new information to us so quickly! YOU are Soccer605!