Talawanda committee: Eliminate field hockey and add girls golf

In this 2010 file photo, Talawanda players workout during field hockey practice at the high school. The district’s Supplemental Review Committee has suggested the school board eliminate field hockey and add girls golf to the high school’s sports offerings. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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In this 2010 file photo, Talawanda players workout during field hockey practice at the high school. The district’s Supplemental Review Committee has suggested the school board eliminate field hockey and add girls golf to the high school’s sports offerings. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Talk of eliminating field hockey as a sports at Talawanda brought comments during a recent school board meeting, including from the team’s current coach.

The district’s Supplemental Review Committee has suggested the school board eliminate field hockey and add girls golf to the high school’s sports offerings.

Superintendent Kelly Spivey said the recommendations were being made to remain revenue neutral and not increase the district’s athletic department budget.

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She noted Talawanda is one of only eight schools in the area to offer field hockey and that 36 out 1,000 school districts in Ohio do so.

Girls golf is a sport offered through the SWOC, the conference in which Talawanda competes, and Athletic Director Wes Cole showed in a presentation how it could help the district’s athletic standings just to offer girls golf.

In one slide, he showed the winter sports standings for the league with Talawanda in third place with 37 points behind Little Miami (39) and Ross (38). Overall, for the fall and winter sports combined, however, Talawanda is in second place with 82.5 points behind Little Miami (84).

Points are assigned based on the final standings in the league for each sport, with two points for last place. If Talawanda had offered girls golf this past fall, those two points for a last place would have the Braves in first place in the overall all-sports standings, headed into the spring season.

Field hockey coach Kate Byrd spoke during the public participation part of the meeting with players, parents and former players standing behind her. Byrd said she is a 2004 graduate of Talawanda High School.

“I am the field hockey coach and have been involved all of my life. I am here because of word of cutting the field hockey program. We currently have 23 people for fall and the number is rising every day. They are eager to play and want to show support for the program,” she said. “In eight years of coaching, I have had between 18 and 32 students per year. It gives the girls something to do. We want to make sure you to know field hockey is important.”

Field hockey is not offered at all schools and is not a sport offered by the SWOC, but is instead organized by the Southwest Ohio Field Hockey League that includes eight high schools in the Cincinnati and Dayton area.

Byrd said the sport is growing with the help of a youth field hockey program at the Oxford Parks and Recreation Department for grades three through eight.

Byrd said that arrangement makes it difficult and team numbers fluctuate which makes fielding a junior varsity team difficult.

“We always make it work,” she said. “At Talawanda, we give the opportunity to play this unique sport. Some girls in southwest Ohio do not have that opportunity.”

She also presented a stack of letters to the board in support of the field hockey program.

Dave Croucher followed Byrd to the microphone and said he is president of the Athletic Boosters organization. He came to suggest to the board an increase of $5,000 to the athletic program to cover more of the cost of new uniforms for the various sports, but after listening to Byrd’s comments, added more about that.

“It’s disheartening to hear that is possible,” he said, adding he was a member of the Ohio State University fencing team when plans were announced to cut that and other sports. “Thankfully, the board reconsidered and did not drop them and they are Olympic sports. I would be in favor of continuing field hockey at Talawanda.”

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