Keene baseball players merged with Westport for the past two seasons. "Beagle-ball," as it was called, was not renewed this season by the Westport Central School Board.
With no boys varsity basketball or baseball squads, Keene Central School is looking for help.
However, no one seems willing.
At the March 20 regular meeting of the KCS board of Education, Superintendent Cynthia Ford-Johnston said she had been involved in preliminary discussions with Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School about an all-sport merger.
“We have heard nothing from them other than the initial discussion,” Johnston said. “I asked and they said that they are considering it.”
At a March 14 budget meeting in Elizabethtown, Superintendent Gail Else said that they were discussing the matter of combining sports between the schools.
Johnston said that the two-year Beagle baseball team, where Keene players joined with the Westport squad, was taken off the table at the beginning of the school year by Westport.
“I have had two interactions with them,” Johnston said. “At the beginning of the year, they told us that they would have enough for a team and that everyone was going to be Eagles. Throughout the year, they started to change a little bit and asked us if we wanted to join a few weeks ago. Fred (Hooper) spoke to the three boys who would have played, and my understanding is that they decided to do track.”
Johnston said she also had talked with Westport about combining in other sports, but, “they were not as open as we thought they would be.
“We will continue to be open to the discussion,” she said.
Alum Matt Dumas questioned the board as to how they could field a soccer team, which has a minimum requirement of 11 players, but not a baseball team, which needs nine.
“I don’t support a merger one bit,” he said. “The offering of things like track and hockey have had an impact on the numbers in the traditional sports. It has them doing their own thing instead of being part of a team and working together. You need to fix this.”
“Would you rather not have a team then a merged team,” board president James Marlatt said.
“We only had three kids who were interested in baseball,” Johnston responded. “We cannot tell the kids what sports they play.”
“You cannot tell them, but if you did not have the track and other options, they would be more likely to play,” Dumas said.
He added that he felt students would stop playing sports if they were faced with long trips to practice with other schools.
“Will you have the kids continue to participate and go to other schools five years from now, or will they just stop playing,” Dumas asked.
Some parents backed the idea of merged teams.
“My son played during the time with the Beagles and our guys really loved the experience,” Peg Wilson said. “I was not a supporter of the merged teams, but Luke really enjoyed it and our kids were a part of a team. I think that it is too bad that Westport didn’t want to this year.”
“I was excited about the idea of a merge,” Lisa Smith said. “I had to be on the varsity soccer team in seventh grade because they would have not had enough players, and it kind of traumatized me. I think we should be for anything that gets the kids out there and meeting other people from other schools.”
“If other schools would welcome our kids, then that is a good thing,” Cindy Summo said.
Smith added that she did have one reservation to any merger.
“The only thing that I would not support from a merger would be cuts,” she said.
Johnston agreed that would be a concern with more kids trying out for a varsity sport, but the board still wanted to look at options for kids to compete in interscholastic sports.