Group hoping to kick off soccer in Portales schools

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

A Portales Rams Soccer team — that’s what some parents and community members are hoping to get in the school district and today at 5:30 p.m. there will be a meeting, open to the public, to try and get the ball rolling.

Traci Sievers, an organizer of the meeting, said it will take place in the Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative Conference Room. Sievers said there is interest from local teens between the ages of 14 and 18 to play soccer at PHS.

“There are about 30 in co-ed in AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization),” Sievers said. Sievers said she coaches a youth (ages 14 and under) team and she started noticing a trend. “We started seeing a trend as the kids got older they lost interest,” Sievers said. “They had nothing to shoot for. We’re planning to ask the Portales School District for a soccer program for the 2007-08 season.”

Sievers said the 2007-08 season would be more realistic because for the 2006-07 season, the schedule and finances would already have to be set.

Melvin Nusser, Portales High School principal, said he’s all for starting new programs for the high school, but with a tight budget there would have to be cuts to other programs or personnel just to start a soccer program.

Don Gomez, PHS athletic director, said there’s another catch — if Portales High School officials were to implement a soccer program for the girls, they would have to begin a soccer program for the boys, also and vice versa, according to New Mexico Activities Association rules.

Gomez said the PHS athletic program is financially strapped and has been operating on the same budget for several years. Gomez said there used to be a co-ed soccer team at PHS 10 years ago, but it lasted only about three years after the players didn’t want to play co-ed anymore.

Nusser said administrators are already having trouble balancing the budget with rising travel costs, especially when it comes to traveling to Albuquerque for state tournaments.

Nusser pointed out that there is something else to consider when trying to start a soccer program. He said the opponents in the district would not be the same as they are in basketball or volleyball. Lovington does not have a boys or girls soccer team. Currently the two teams for girls soccer in District 4 are Ruidoso and Socorro. For the boys District 4, the teams are the New Mexico Military Institute, Hatch Valley, Ruidoso and Socorro. More than likely that means the Portales players would have to travel to those schools for games, increasing the travel budget.

Sievers said the addition of soccer programs at Eastern New Mexico University helps create a soccer program for PHS. Sievers said ENMU soccer coaches Carlos Elizondo and Travis McCorkle are excited about the possibility.
“They’re excited about having a program and recruiting a local talent,” Sievers said.

Sievers said school officials could also use the soccer field off of Third Street by the baseball field.

“It’s a growing sport in Portales,” Sievers said. “There are more and more kids in the soccer leagues.”