September 21, 2014

AE, AGS clear hurdle for cooperative junior high football

AE letting seniors decide homecoming plans

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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TWINING — The Arenac Eastern school board cleared a proposal to form a joint junior high football team with Au Gres-Sims for the fall Aug. 13, as part of the cooperative sports agreement.

Junior high students from both schools will form a team together, as the Au Gres-Sims board followed suit, approving the proposal Aug. 20. According to AE Trustee Tim Nelson, he has no problem with this agreement after the school was unable to field a team last year.

“If we had the numbers, I would care about keeping it here,” Nelson said. “But last year neither school’s kids were able to play.”

Nelson believed they would have enough players to jointly field a team of 12 students.

Au Gres-Sims Superintendent Jeff Collier said the junior high football agreement is only for the upcoming school year, while the high school football agreement runs for two years.

Trustee Richard Klender praised the move for safety reasons, saying he always gets concerned when freshmen go up against seniors on the field.

The joint team will be playing out of Au Gres-Sims, similar to the varsity team. AE Principal Michael Bowman said the football field at AE had not been properly maintained over the summer, and would not be ready for games this season. Nelson said that while he would rather have football at AE, if the field was not ready it was better for the students to be able to play somewhere.

Since the AE football field is not ready for a game, however, the school board decided to field opinions from the senior class on what to do for homecoming celebrations.

The AE homecoming is currently scheduled for Sept. 21, and board members threw out suggestions ranging from holding ceremonies earlier in the day before the game, having an extended half-time show for both schools, or holding homecoming with a later sport, such as basketball.

Since the celebrations are primarily for the senior class, however, the school board voted unanimously to have the senior class adviser talk with the students to see what direction they wanted to go in.

The two schools’ cooperative committee agreed to let the winter sports deadline pass by rather than try to rush an agreement, Nelson said. As such, both schools will field their own teams in sports like basketball.

“I believe we have enough players to field boys and girls basketball teams,” Nelson said.

Discussions are continuing for sports programs in the spring and beyond, Nelson said. The committee members were changed up last month to allow a fresh perspective on negotiations after they had stalled.

“Both groups have agreed not to make hasty decisions,” Bowman said. “We want to make sure we do things correctly, and will bring back everything to the board.”

AE School Board President Ann Brown said the important thing is giving kids a chance to play and have fun, regardless of whether or not they are called an Eagle or a Wolverine, the two schools’ mascots. She said the schools are looking into other cooperative ventures as well, such as sharing a Spanish teacher.

Collier said the committee is looking at putting criteria together for hiring the coaching staff for any cooperative sports teams to make sure both schools have a fair say in who gets chosen.

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