Parents speak out about possible soccer program at TASD

Tuesday’s Tyrone School Board meeting was attended by 22 citizens of the Tyrone School District. Of that group, 20 were there to talk to the board about the soccer program that is being looked at by the district.
The previous week at the work session of the Tyrone School Board, athletic director Tony Yaniello spoke to the board about the possibility of starting a soccer program in the Tyrone School District, the possible costs and the interest level. Tuesday night, parents and players from the Tyrone AYSO Soccer League were in attendance to speak to the board.
“This season we have 210 kids between the ages of 5 and 14 participating in the soccer program in Tyrone,” said Jim Robbie, the president of Tyrone Youth Soccer. “This is the start of our third year and so far we have had 350 kids try the sport at least one season. We started with 56 kids in our first year and it has grown tremendously. Currently we don’t have enough field space or volunteers to go above age 14. We are hoping to see the school district add a junior varsity and varsity soccer program in the future.”
One of the concerns brought up at last week’s work session was if the soccer program was started, what impact would it have on other varsity sports in Tyrone.
Tracy Detwiler, a parent of a youth soccer player believes that it shouldn’t play a role in the decision.
“Kids leaving other sports to play soccer shouldn’t be relative to the decision,” said Detwiler. “There are kids who leave other sports now. The kids will choose between sports and pick the one they like the best.”
Statistically, of the roughly 1,500 students in the Tyrone Area School District, nearly 20 percent are participating in youth soccer, compared to two percent playing varsity football.
“This is a sport in which boys and girls can play,” said Robbie. “There are some kids in our program who have considerable skills. It is a shame if they have to end their playing at the age of 14. There are college scholarships available especially on the girls’ level. It is a great sport and it is growing every year.”
Bruce Baker has a nine-year-old daughter who participates in the Tyrone soccer program.
“All you have to do is look at the kicker on the football team for an example of someone who is a good soccer player,” said Baker.
“Ben Gummo played AYSO soccer in Altoona and was a part of its traveling team. He has gone around the country and to Hawaii to play soccer. He is proof you can be successful in two sports.
“Tyrone could look at the possibility of getting into the league that Grier School participates in,” Baker continued. “There are kids here who have a tremendous amount of talent and it won’t take long for the team to get competitive. By entering the league that Grier participates in, it will give the Tyrone team an opportunity to develop on the field and with the coaches and work things out before joining the league they would play in.”
Robbie concluded by thanking the school district for the assistance it has given the Tyrone Soccer Program.
Tyrone School Board president Lee Stover thanked the parents and students for their interest and assured them that the board and athletic department is looking into the possibility of a soccer program at the high school level.