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Girls' soccer eyed at Marinette

Board panel hears from school official

MARINETTE - The time may have come for Marinette High School girls to go from the sideline to the center circle. That's the goal of Kurt Gundlach, MHS co-curricular/facilities director.

The boys currently have a co-ed soccer team of which several participants are girls. But the number of girls waiting in the wings could prove to be worth pursuing a varsity squad. Gundlach put the idea up for consideration Monday night at a meeting of the Finance and Facilities Committee of the board of education.

"The one that stood out to me as much as any of them in terms of our sport offerings was the potential for girls' soccer as a WIAA sport," said Gundlach. "We offer co-ed sports, which means our girls are competing with our boys in a boys schedule, which I don't feel is fair and equitable to our girls."

Gundlach said the reason for having co-ed soccer in the past was because so few girls were taking part. "I think at this point as we start to look at where we're going and the study I've done with our coaches as to where those numbers are going justify the addition," he said.

At the high school level there are six girls sports in fall and two in the spring. Gundlach said that puts a strain on the competitive participation and the number of participants. "It really compromises the ability for you to build a consistent competitive level for all those offerings."

Before bringing his idea to the committee, Gundlach talked with assistant soccer coach Ingrid Finley and head boys' soccer coach Frank Pohlmann. He said both coaches believed a girls' team would be competitive immediately.

If approved by the board, the girls soccer program would likely start with a varsity team and grow from there. Projections for girls wanting to participate in the coming years vary with the greatest number right now at age 13. Gundlach said as many as 23 participants could be expected.

Establishing a need is not nearly as challenging as finding the money to accomplish the mission. Uniforms, coaches, officials and transportation costs are projected at approximately $12,800 for the first year and $9,800 a year after that. The cost does not include fringe benefits for coaches which is estimated at another $600 each.

With money already tight, funding would have to come from the current sports budget. The move could affect the number of players on the boys team since it is now co-ed. "There would be a potential where we wouldn't be able to, at least year one, have a JV squad, there's a potential for that," said Gundlach.

Even so, the matter is expected to come up at next week's school board meeting so the wheels could be put in motion for next spring. Gundlach said the idea has already received approval from conference officials pending board approval.

"Soccer has grown so much in the area," said board president Scott VandeHei. "It's just not fair to the girls to expect them to compete against all boy teams at other schools."


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