School soccer supporters go before board

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Soccer moms and dads and children in soccer uniforms filled the Portales Schools Board of Education meeting Tuesday in a show of support for adding a school soccer program.

The proposal was launched in the spring and backers of the sport submitted a formal proposal to the school board in June. Supporters have been meeting with administration officials to work out the details of the proposed program. The school board plans to vote on the proposal at its regular meeting in November.

Soccer supporters showed results of student surveys administered by the group to gauge the interest in the program. Several community members also took the opportunity to speak in favor of adding the program.

Portales parent Traci Sievers said she is interested in providing students an opportunity to continue to play soccer when they get into high school.
Sievers said when the district previously offered soccer in the 1990s, participation was a problem.

“We didn’t have the feeder system back then that we have in place now,” Sievers said.

Pointing to the survey numbers, Sievers said they showed at least 100 boys and 100 girls would go out for soccer if it were offered. She said a normal team roster would include 22 players.

The girls high school survey results the group passed out showed 140 boys indicated they would participate if given the chance to play high school soccer. A total of 317 surveys were returned. The boys high school survey for the same question showed 146 would participate with a sample of 326.

“You aren’t going to be scraping kids together, saying, ‘please play soccer,’ you’re going to have to choose a team,” Sievers said. “And you should be able to put together a pretty competitive team.”

Another soccer supporter, Sheila Wolfe, told the board over the last few years the Roosevelt County Soccer Club was organized with players of various ages participating. She said the purpose of the club was to begin to nurture a feeder program for high school soccer.

“There’s a lot of kids out there who just love the game,” Wolfe said. “I just want them to have the chance to play.”
Portales Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said the main priorities for the meetings administration staff has held with the group have been to figure out the basic costs and budget numbers as well as determine the interest level and the maintenance portion of the proposal in the way of fields.

The initial proposal outlined an estimated annual budget of $22,225. Fowler said that number didn’t take into account both boys and girls soccer programs and budget cost would be at least double that figure. But he said the administration could find a way to add soccer by tweaking the budget if asked to do so.

“You can make anything work,” Fowler said. “It’s just if you add this you’ll have to take away from some other thing.”

Asked if the proposal’s claim that the addition of the program might attract students to the district who have gone to Clovis, Fowler didn’t discount the theory.

“You don’t count on that happening. But it might,” he said.
Eddie Schaap, who is involved with organized youth soccer in Clovis, told the group that there are a number of good players from Portales who regularly drive to compete there.

“Soccer’s a growing sport, its going to continue to grow,” Schaap said. “I think it would be good for Portales to have a program, especially since Eastern (New Mexico University) has soccer.”
PHS Athletic Director Don Gomez was not at the board meeting and declined to comment on the proposal.