In 2011 matchup, Warrensburg Varsity soccer players Chris Cupp (left) and Shane Putney (right) pass the ball as a North Warren player attempts a steal. In 2012 Warrensburg High School discontinued Varsity soccer due to an inadequate number of players. This year, Warrensburg is again offering both Varsity and Modified soccer through a merger of soccer programs with Bolton Central School, and sports fans have high expectations for the Varsity teams. Photo by Kim Ladd/Lifescapes Photography
The public high schools of Warrensburg and Bolton have merged soccer programs — and the joint venture was praised this week by coaches and administrators of both schools.
The Varsity girls and Varsity boys soccer teams representing the two schools began practice Aug. 15, and the new arrangement allows Warrensburg athletes to play soccer on the Varsity level for the first time in two years. Warrensburg High School’s Varsity soccer was dropped in 2012 due to an inadequate number of players.
Also, the merger offers the opportunity for Warrensburg girls to compete on an all-female squad instead of on the Warrensburg boys team as they had at times over the past decade.
The new joint boys’ and girls’ teams have full rosters — a feat which has been difficult to achieve in prior years for both schools. The merged squads now have a heightened ability to effectively compete, the school administrators said.
“Both school districts have diminishing enrollment, and we wanted to continue the opportunity for our kids to play soccer,” said John Goralski, Warrensburg Central’s Superintendent of Schools. “This merger accomplished that.”
As of this week, the combined team had no nickname, mascot or logo. On the first scrimmage played, the combined teams played with Bolton’s shirts. New blue-and-green jerseys have been ordered for the team, with the blue representing Warrensburg and the green for Bolton, Goralski said.
“The color combination reminds me of the Seattle Seahawks,” Goralski said.
Bolton Central Superintendent Michael Graney said that the joint venture means his soccer teams won’t have to draft 9th graders who may not be ready for Varsity competition — as has been necessary some years to field teams.
“So far, the merged team is off to a great start,” he said.
“The interaction between school districts been great — We expect to work together well and keep it that way.”
Graney added that combining the athletes from both schools boosts student safety as well as the two teams’ ability to effectively compete.
“With more athletes, it keeps players fresh and competitive,” he said. “Substituting players provides a breather for them when they need it.”
Bolton-Warrensburg Girls Varsity Soccer Coach Patrick Morency said he was enthusiastic about the merger, which he said benefits female soccer players from both schools.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with student-athletes from Warrensburg,” Morency said. “They are a nice addition to an already amazing group of players.”
Bolton Athletic Director Francisco Roca said that the full benefits of the merger would be realized over time.
“With both schools experiencing declining enrollment, the joint program is a natural ‘fit,’” he said, noting that the merged Varsity boys soccer team has about 18 players, and the girls squad has 15. “Our kids feel comfortable and seem to have embraced the situation.”
Most of the Varsity games are to be played in Bolton, and the Modified games on Warrensburg fields. Sixteen games are to be held this season, through the third week of October. The practices are to be equally divided between each school.
Warrensburg Central Athletic Director Scott Smith said he was happy about the merger, which offered a new experience for female athletes from Warrensburg High. Although Warrensburg’s Varsity boys soccer team hosted girls over the years — including All-Star player Teagan Rafferty and the talented Megan Pierce — the new merged team offers a new opportunity in which they can be more competitive, Smith said.
“Although the Warrensburg girl athletes have done well on our boys team, this merger allows the Warrensburg girls to compete on an equal footing,” Smith said, noting that Ryley Scott and Melanie Warner have signed up for the girls team.
Tuesday, the Bolton-Warrensburg girls team started off their season, demonstrating their potential. They played their first game of the season, beating Moriah 6-2 in a solid comeback victory.