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Greensburg Salem eliminates field hockey program

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 11:20 p.m.

For the first time in 11 years, Greensburg Salem High School will not have a field hockey team this fall.

The school board voted Aug. 8 not to sponsor the team because of low interest.

“We were told (by superintendent Eileen Amato) there were only four students interested in field hockey this year,” board president Nat Pantalone said. “Based on the low numbers and no coach, the decision was made to cut the program at a savings of approximately $14,000.”

Sylvia Guerrieri, the coach the past two seasons, moved to Virginia and was not replaced.

Booster club president Linda Morrison said parents and players were stunned by the board's decision.

“We didn't see it coming,” she said. “The girls were getting ready to practice; a couple scrimmages were planned. More girls were showing interest in playing.

“If we knew the board was going to act, we would have been out in force. But we don't have a coach, so there were no channels of communication.”

Booster club members met with athletic director Lynn Jobe to try to revive the team as a club. But a lack of funds and a WPIAL rule prohibiting teams from competing without school sponsorship hindered the effort.

Greensburg Salem played as a club squad for three years before the school began sponsoring the team in 2004, team co-founder Kenneth Dzialowski said.

“There just wasn't enough time to pull everything together,” said Morrison, who offered to serve as coach. “Even arranging a playing field would have been complicated.

“It's not like 10 years ago when there were a lot of clubs. Now everybody's in the WPIAL. It would have been tough finding opponents.”

Greensburg Salem was 3-9 in section play in WPIAL Class AA a year ago.

“It's crushing,” senior Jaydyn Morrison said. “I play in the summer with clubs. I feel sorry for the girls who only play in high school as a way to stay in shape.”

Former players also were upset at the development.

“I made a lot of good friends playing at Greensburg Salem,” said Kelly Dzialowski, 19. “Even though I've graduated, I'll feel something is missing knowing there is not a team there anymore.”

Only 18 WPIAL schools have field hockey teams now that Greensburg Salem won't offer the sport.

“It's a sign of the times that schools have to eliminate sports because of low turnout,” WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said. “It's not like field hockey is being singled out; no sport is immune when budgets are cut.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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