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Mary Stroka, NLJ Reporter

Board deliberates on potential NHS golf team

The course for creating a golf team for Newcastle High School will be a bit longer than some may have hoped.

Newcastle High School Principal Bryce Hoffman said at the Weston County School District No. 1 school board meeting on March 13 that he learned from the Wyoming High School Activities Association’s commissioner that the school needs to approve adding a sport to its catastrophic insurance program before the sport’s season begins. He said that because the golf season officially starts on March 25, there isn’t enough time for the Dogies to field a golf team this spring.

“Approval after March 25 would result in us not participating until the August golf season,” Hoffman said.

School board Chair Dana Mann-Tavegia suggested there were other hurdles as well. She said at the meeting that the board should require three readings to add golf as a sport, which is what the board did when it added a soccer team several years ago. If the board chose to follow the same process as with soccer, it would need to finalize approval by April 10, according to Mann-Tavegia. Because two practices are necessary before the team could compete, April 13 would be the first day the team would be eligible to do that.

“So that makes it ineligible to be a spring sport in 2024,” Hoffman said.

Mann-Tavegia also pointed out that high school soccer completed four probation years of volunteer coaching, and students and families paid for overnight stays during that time.

“That’s how we did soccer, so it wouldn’t be fair to soccer if we allowed another sport to start without doing the same thing,” she suggested.

Trustee Tina Chick said she is concerned about whether the school district is big enough to support another sport. She expressed worry over the costs associated, especially considering a projected increase in insurance costs and a small incoming kindergarten class that will mean less state revenue for the district moving forward.

Newcastle summer recreation golf program facilitator Brad Troftgruben, who proposed adding the sport at the Feb. 28 school board meeting, said that he anticipates golf will attract both students who would likely play other sports and those who can’t run fast and aren’t “built out of muscle.”

Golf is both “a pretty safe bet” for students who get injured and want to continue playing sports and a sport that is good for students who would prefer a sport that does not involve a lot of teamwork, according to trustee Paul Bau, who said he was injured in high school.

Carrie Manders, the middle school’s activities director,  read a message to the board from Alysha Engle, the high school’s activities director, that claimed the activities directors are worried about the proposed program’s sustainability. One of their concerns is the cost of golf equipment. The district has three activities directors: Manders, Engle and Mike Gregory.

“If even three to five years down the road the school has to start picking up those costs, that’s going to be huge,” the message from Engle said, according to Manders.

Also, while there has been interest for years in starting golf, the numbers of those interested are low, and the community has been criticizing the strength of the school district’s sports programs and coaches “for a long time,” Manders said.

Golf program supporters are supposed to present a proposal to the board at its next meeting, which is on March 27. There will be an early start, of 5 p.m. for the board to consider the contracts for next year for initial and continuing contract teachers and non-certified staff.

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