Seventh- and eighth-grade boys in the Freeport Area School District will be able to compete in track and field this spring.
The school board has approved creation of a seventh- and eighth-grade track program that will dovetail with the sport at the varsity level.
“We would transport them to a maximum of two meets,” Superintendent Ian Magness told the school board Wednesday. “We will host two here.”
The board unanimously approved the program.
Other than transportation to the away meets, board president Dan Lucovich said, “It looks like it will basically be at no cost to the district.”
Magness said any other costs the program has to meet would be covered by fundraising by a yet-to-be-organized boosters group.
He said varsity track coach John Gaillot, who also is head football coach, and his assistants approached him about starting the middle school track program. Magness said all the coaches have volunteered for this without asking for any additional pay.
The next step, he said, would be to have students sign up to give school officials an indication of the interest, then organize a boosters group and begin fundraising before practice starts for the lower grade-level program.
According to Magness, track and field is the most popular varsity sports program in regard to participation. He said 110 students are involved.
“We have nothing for the boys in the spring in the middle school,” he said. “The girls at least have volleyball.
“We would basically be scrimmage meets for other schools, but still, it will give kids a chance to get out there and compete,” Magness said.
“It may not start up at the beginning of the WPIAL season, but we do intend on running it this year,” he said.
The transportation costs, he estimates would be about $900.
He said it costs the district $225 per bus and figures two buses would be needed for the two away meets. However, the number of buses would be dictated by how many students participate.
The district should be able to supply at least some uniforms, possibly from the cross-country program, Magness said.
Other costs that would have to be covered would be for equipment items such as shots, the metal balls used in the shot put event, and discuses for the discus throw, which would have to be smaller than those used by the varsity team.
“If we have the opportunity to involve children in something that is good and will help them, I think we should do it,” board member Christine Davies said.
Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.