WM nets boys soccer program

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Last Monday, June 26, the Watertown Mayer School Board unanimously voted to host boys soccer in Watertown starting Fall 2018. The decision comes after a year of planning and conversation brought forward by superintendent Ron Wilke and the previous activities director Tom Dasovich.

The school board engaged in about half an hour of discussion on the topic, they listened to speakers and had heavy discussion. There was one remaining message throughout the meeting.

“The good news is no matter what you decide tonight, our students are going to have a soccer option, we’re committed to providing our students with a quality experience no matter what,” Wilke said.

Whether or not school board decided to host soccer in Watertown, the school could have stayed in their co-op with Mayer Lutheran High School. WMHS staff said that the team was two-thirds of their students last season.

Dasovich spent last year conducting surveys on parents and boys in Watertown Mayer schools to see what the sustainability and interest in the program would look like. Wilke called this, Dasovich’s last act.

According to the survey, there were 37 boys in grades seventh through 11th grade that said they would be interested in soccer if it were hosted in Watertown and 24 parents that said their son would join if it was in Watertown. Staff said this averages about six to eight players per grade which should be enough to sustain the program for about six years. The ideal teams would have about 14 players.

Syzmanski said he would be very shocked if Dasovich hadn’t had thought ahead like this. He said starting a team is exciting but the important question is if how long it can last.

“There is no reason to move ahead if this isn’t something that can be sustained,” he said.

Another important group is the booster club, the school board said it would be imparative that they sustain themselves as well. Ronna Ritter with the club said that they will for sure run for 18 months at least and are committed to holding fundraisers often.

“We have a very committed booster club, we feel confident we can get you the $5,000 we promised you earlier,” Ritter said.

Already the boosters have several events planned. They plan to volunteer at the youth basketball tournament at the end of the summer, they’re planning on a fundraiser at ribfest in the end of July, bagging groceries at Cub and two larger fundraisers at US Bank Stadium in which they will be able to raise $500 to $1,000 with each event according to Ritter.

Despite these facts and promises, some board members were still weary of unknown costs like field maintenance and scheduling of fields between three fall sports.

“Ofcourse we want to offer students everything, we want to offer them the moon but we do have to be responsible financially,” said board member Cassie Vogt. “I’m not even worried about if it’s growing or sustainable kids wise, it’s how it will do financially.

“I think my concern was in the financial area but also in the field, being able to run soccer, boys and girls and football all on one field,” added member Stacy Unowsky. “I want it to be a good place to play not sub par.”

School board chair Jennifer Jankula said that this is a concern, because costs with the fields are costs they cannot infer.

“It’s quite concerning and fields can be quite expensive,” she said.

Board member Kelly Thaemert once again reminded everyone that no matter what, the kids will have soccer. The board is aware of the torn perspectives for parents and student but Wilke said it comes down to access. He said he wants what is best for all parties. He also said if Mayer Lutheran were to join their co-op then they would talk about sharing space between Mayer and Watertown.

Overall, members were willing to take the risk.

“As far as the financials I am not that concerned, I think we have a good group of parents that are going to work hard,” Julie Sweeney said. “I think soccer is growing, I am leaning toward yes.”

“I think we try it, then reavaluate in the future,” member Jeff Jackson added.

In the end the council voted yes. Wilke said the district will be here to support families. For the 2017-2018 year soccer is not budgeted according to Wilke, but will be about $12,000 in the first year, 2018-2019.

As for comments for Mayer Lutheran the boys soccer coach Matt Polding emailed saying “Mayer Lutheran has appreciated the partnership we have had with Watertown/Mayer High School in boys’ soccer. We understand that Watertown/Mayer has decided to end our co-op after the upcoming season. Mayer Lutheran is committed to continuing and building on our tradition of boys’ soccer as an opportunity for our students.”

School board meetings are the fourth Monday of every month at 6 p.m. in city hall We will update this story as more information forms from the district.