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Armstrong school board looks at adding junior high soccer

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 12:26 a.m.

Armstrong School District officials could consider instituting competitive junior high soccer programs at Kittanning Junior High School and Ford City Junior-Senior High School.

Ford City resident Matthew Riggle told school directors this week that he'd like to see the district start a girls' junior high team next year, since the YMCA youth soccer program no longer accommodates students once they reach junior high school.

Armstrong School District created a varsity girls soccer program last year. After age 12, district girls are unable to play soccer again until the varsity level, which creates a gap in their skills during junior high, Riggle said.

“They really only have three options — they could play in the traveling league, which is not affiliated with the school and parents pay for, out of pocket,” Riggle said. “Their second option is to do something else completely, or they could play with the junior high boys.

“As a parent of three girls, I'm a little uncomfortable having girls playing with boys, because they're going through changes at that time of their life, and the boys are also a little rougher at that point.”

Riggle said the junior high program could help boost numbers throughout the district's varsity girls soccer program.

Last year, the district instituted a co-ed soccer program with students participating from both schools, according to Superintendent Stan Chapp.

A total of 22 students participated, with 11 boys and 11 girls playing junior high soccer, he said. Only three students from Ford City Junior-Senior High School played, while the remainder came from Kittanning Junior High School, he added.

“It takes 11 members to play on the team, so we generally like to see 15 students on each team,” Chapp said. “There is a program there, but thenumbers are pretty sketchy.”

If the district planned to start a formal junior high girls soccer team, officials would also need to consider starting one for boys, Chapp said.

It would not be fair to establish a girls program without a boys program, Chapp said.

“It's so split between boys and girls, that we can't just start a program for girls and have the boys left out,” he said.

Board member Chris Choncek said his son played in the junior high program last year, and said he'd rather see the co-ed program in place instead of no programming.

Choncek said the program was not well advertised in Ford City, which could be the reason for a low participation rate at the school.

“If we can get more interest, and attract more boys and girls, we'll have a larger pool of students, so we can possibly look into the specific programs,” Choncek said.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, orbpedersen@tribweb.com.

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