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School officials wrestling with how club teams can play

Warren County School District officials are continuing to work through how club teams for junior high wrestling will interact with district offerings and facilities.

The district, per administrative procedure, consolidated junior high wrestling programs last month. Eisenhower remains while programs at Youngsville and Sheffield were merged into the program at Beaty-Warren Middle School.

Representatives from Sheffield and Youngsville indicated those respective communities would expand existing club programs to include junior high — seventh and eighth grades.

Superintendent Amy Stewart noted that the district is familiar with working with club and travel sports teams. Club sports, like travel teams, are not district activities.

“Part of this is ongoing and working on how this is going to look,” she said, speaking of the importance of everyone having a clear understanding of what a club team is and what it is not “and how they can work back and forth.

“Many times, travel and club sports utilize our facilities,” she added. “That’s the connection to the school. A lot of folks don’t necessarily understand… In this case, this is quite unique (with a) request to run the club team at the same time we’re running ours.

“We need to have a common understanding of what that would look like.”

For example, club wrestlers can’t practice with district program wrestlers and PIAA prohibits member teams from scrimmaging against club teams.

What happens if those provisions are violated?

“If they play in an inappropriate way; if someone blows the whistle, the team can be in trouble,” Stewart said. “(We) don’t want that to happen. We just want them to play.”

A couple of logistical challenges on the district’s end also complicate the issue.

With boys and girls basketball as well as junior high boys basketball along with the county’s wrestling programs, finding enough gym time for everyone can be a challenge.

And for a club team to hold a match on the night of a JV or varsity match, the mats would need to be cleaned and disinfected up to PIAA standards.

“If we have club (wrestlers) using mats that are not checked by PIAA, and we want our kids to be using the same mats, we would have to have time to disinfect and have the mats dry. It’s a matter of time,” Stewart said, noting that meeting the cleaning regulations has been an issue.

“The issues these clubs might have, their problem or the hangup is more on the PIAA side than the WCSD side,” Board member Paul Mangione noted.

“Our limitation is gym time,” Stewart said.

Board President Donna Zariczny said the concern she heard was that a club match couldn’t be held on the night of a varsity match but noted that Stewart detailed that it is a “timing issue” with a need to complete the club match and clean the mats before the varsity match.

Stewart said “they’re going to have to prioritize” which club wrestlers will compete due to the timing issue.

“They’re going to be treated like every other travel team there is,” she added. “They can ask to use any parts of our facilities.”

Board member Arthur Stewart suggested that “what caused alarm in the community” was the idea that a club event would have to be held separately from school functions. “That blanket prohibition… that’s really not the school district’s position. It’s dependent on that other condition. The availability.”

“It’s going to be very complicated to administer to keep it all clean,” Amy Stewart said. “There’s a high likelihood that things are going to get messed up.”

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