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High School Sports

Ligonier Valley may explore football options

| Thursday, Sept. 25, 2003

The possibility of co-opting more sports programs between Ligonier Valley and Laurel Valley high schools -- including football -- may arise at an athletic committee meeting tonight at the high school in Ligonier.

Ligonier Valley Booster President Stephanie Emert said rumors are rampant that the subject will be discussed at the 6 p.m. meeting in the high school library, and some parents plan on attending.

"We received no formal notification or anything like that, but we've heard through the grapevine it could come up. Personally, I have mixed feelings about it," Emert said.

"I heard it's not just about (co-opting) football, but all the sports. My oldest son who attended Ligonier played baseball at Laurel Valley last year and didn't have any problems," she said.

Emert said she will be unable to attend the meeting, but other members of the booster committee will be there.

The Ligonier Valley School District operates separate high schools, and most of the athletic programs are separate. However, some sports are combined including baseball with one team at Laurel Valley and swimming and wrestling with single teams in Ligonier.

Ligonier Valley Mounties football coach Ron Baldonieri, who also is principal in Ligonier, is chairman of the athletic committee. Baldonieri said the matter is not on the agenda "but I guess if it's brought up we'll talk about it."

Baldonieri said the high school's athletic committee routinely meets three times a year, and various items are discussed. He said all head coaches of the athletic programs are invited, and board members and the public are also welcome.

"This is the first I heard of this (the possibility of co-opting football), but again, if it's brought up we'll discuss it," Baldonieri said.

Both football teams have had small squads in recent years. Ligonier Valley had just 25 on its football team this August, while Laurel Valley had 29.

According to the department of education, Ligonier Valley reported an enrollment of 502 at the high school in 2001, while Laurel Valley's middle and high schools had 382 students combined.

According to a Ligonier Valley parent, who wished to be anonymous, "the football parents plan to protest the move. The parents don't want it, (Superintendent Stephen) Whisdosh does."

The parent said administration favors consolidating the football programs at Laurel Valley.

Attempts to reach Whisdosh for comment last night were unsuccessful.

Baldonieri said he opposes co-opting any more sports programs.

"I believe if you're going to have separate high schools, you should have separate athletic departments," Baldonieri said.

Baldonieri said he's observed a lack of participants from the "visiting" school in co-opt programs.

The school district has fought over the issue of consolidation for decades. Twice during the 1990s, proposals to consolidate the district's two high schools at one site were scuttled after the public ousted school directors who supported such plans.

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