Watertown Middle School has a tradition of not cutting players from its after school sports teams, but some sports have attracted many more players than can play in games. The School Committee approved a change to the program to allow more students to participate.
The Watertown Athletic Department has come up with a plan to add intramural teams for the most popular sports, as well as adding a few new teams, said Superintendent Dede Galdston.
“We looked at various option we can implement to reduce the impact of how many kids we have who want to play middle school sports,” Galdston said. “Currently there is a no cut policy — not a policy, but a practice that has been around for a long time.”
Some sports have attracted as man as 60 students, Galdston said.
“When you have that many students, there are large numbers of students who don’t see playing time in games,” Galdston said.
The most popular sports are boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball and baseball. The idea is to give students the chance to play, though for the first year, at least, they will not likely be competing against other schools.
“We are not sure if we are able to sustain a program that has an A team and B team,” Galdston said. “The first year, we will expand and have an intramural program. We will have additional teams in the largely enrolled programs, and determine from that if we have enough true interest in that second team to then move into a competitive program in the second year.”
Galdson added that there is a possibility of setting up games with other schools if they also have a second team looking for competition.
Watertown Middle School students will also have some new sports in which they can participate: fall cheerleading and a winter indoor track team.
School Committee members wondered how the middle school indoor track team would operate without an indoor track in town. School Committee member Amy Donohue, who is on the Athletics subcommittee, said they can follow the model of the high school. They can run inside the hallways of the school, or practice outside, if weather permits.
Galdston noted that with the upcoming renovation or rebuilding of Watertown High School, school officials have an opportunity to add an indoor track, perhaps suspended above the gym floor.
The district has earmarked $52,000 for the Middle School Sports, which will include the stipends for coaches, uniforms for the new teams and to establish the new teams.
The School Committee also looked at the fees paid by students to take part in the intramural programs. Rather than going for the full $160 fee per sport, paid by those on the interscholastic teams, the School Committee voted to charge $50 for students to participate in the intramural sports.