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TASD plans to approve co-op with Bellwood-Antis for soccer, swimming and tennis programs for 2008-09 school year

The Tyrone Area School Board (TASB) held a work session last evening to discuss business before its Wednesday, May 21 regular session. A possible co-op with Bellwood-Antis School District and Tyrone pertaining to the soccer, swimming and tennis athletic programs appeared on the agenda.
Although it is in the beginning stages, Tyrone plans to move forward with making the co-op a reality for next school year, due to a tentative exception granted by the District VI committee that will allow the Bellwood-Antis athletes to compete alongside Tyrone next year. Bellwood-Antis is also working towards allowing its students to participate in Tyrone’s soccer, swimming and tennis programs.
Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis school boards must approve to enter a joint waiver of Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) regulations concerning classification changes in odd numbered years for the purpose of forming soccer, swimming and tennis co-op programs to begin with the 2008-09 school year.
Once both school districts approve the joint waiver tentatively granted by District VI, it will move on to the PIAA for an official acceptance.
Tyrone Athletic Director Tom Coleman said that he is very supportive of the co-op with Bellwood-Antis. He thinks it will be a benefit for both school districts and the communities.
“I know both sides are trying to get the ball rolling,” said Coleman. “From my end, this has full support from me.”
He continued, “I think it’s going to be a process. I know we have to look into the PIAA, and there’s a lot of steps you have to take. By the looks of it, it might be a timely process.”
Coleman noted the biggest obstacle will be with the PIAA. He said that with the by-laws, applications and guidelines, those are things that have to be followed.
“Both sides want to do it and from Tyrone’s side of it, we’d like to get started as soon as possible,” added Coleman.
Former Tyrone athletic director and current board member Peter Dutrow was concerned about whether or not the respective coaches of the co-op sports had a chance to add their input in the decision.
Dutrow said that the soccer and tennis programs at Tyrone could use the extra numbers, and he sees this as “a means of these programs surviving.”
Coleman has met with the coaches and received positive feedback. One concern came from the swimming program about a possible classification jump from AA to AAA by the additional student enrollment numbers from Bellwood-Antis.
Enrollment figures for classification for the PIAA are updated every two years. The figures are based on total male and female students from grades ninth through eleventh. PIAA schools are presently in the first year of the most recent enrollment updates, compiled in October of 2007.
Tyrone has a total enrollment of 477 ninth through eleventh grade students. There are 210 females and 267 males. Bellwood-Antis has a total enrollment of 325, with 148 females and 177 males.
Tyrone’s boys soccer program is currently AA, because its enrollment falls between the guidelines of 243-449 students required for AA classification. By adding Bellwood-Antis’s enrollment figures, it would jump to 444, barely keeping Tyrone at the AA level.
Boys swimming at Tyrone is also currently AA. Tyrone would remain AA in boys swimming, even with Bellwood-Antis’s enrollment bringing Tyrone to 444. PIAA boys swimming AA enrollment is 1-467 students.
Tyrone is currently AA in girls soccer with its 210 female enrollment. The PIAA cutoff for AA is 300 students. By adding Bellwood-Antis’s enrollment of 148 female students, Tyrone would jump to AAA in girls soccer.
Girls tennis and swimming would remain AA with Bellwood-Antis’s additional female enrollment. The tennis cutoff is 394 and swimming is 432. The 358 combined enrollment figure of Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis falls short of having to move up a classification in either sport.
TASB Student Activities and Services Committee Chairperson Brian Bressler said that soccer and tennis are two sports at Tyrone that have trouble getting students to participate in. He feels that in order to boost the programs, there’s no better way than to give Bellwood-Antis students an opportunity to participate in those sports.
“Anything we can do to promote more athletes to participate, that’s what we want to do,” said Bressler. “Whether it’s our own school district or another school district, the co-op idea is a good way to do it – that’s why we support it, and we’ve supported it ever since we first heard about it.”
Bressler added that the co-op has been considered in the past, but with the recent efforts of Bellwood-Antis parents and students wanting to have a soccer program, he said that’s what more or less brought “everything to light.”
When asked whether or not soccer has any effects on either schools’ football programs, Bressler said he didn’t see any adverse effects.
“Football between the two communities is a major sport, and there’s always a worry of drawing kids from the football program into soccer,” added Bressler. “But not every kid wants to play football. The Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis football programs are well developed and established.”
Tyrone has the soccer, swimming and tennis facilities to take on the venture of the co-op, and now it’s a matter of both school districts moving forward and entering the joint waiver to take the necessary steps with the PIAA.
Tyrone Superintendent Dr. William Miller has been in conversation with Bellwood-Antis Superintendent Brian Toth, and Miller said both schools are in “full agreement” with the co-op. Toth was unavailable for comment this morning, but his office confirmed that the school district is on the same path as Tyrone with the co-op.
“We’re all one community with Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis,” said Miller. “I think the more we can cooperate in activities or extra curricular courses, all the better. It’s a very positive move for soccer, tennis and swimming.”
He added, “It’s something we should be doing.”