Although the East Aurora/Holland high school football merger appears to be a smooth venture so far, future mergers of other sports between the two districts may not happen as easily, Holland Athletic Director Timothy Buckenmeyer told the School Board on Monday.
Wrestling in particular has touched a nerve among some in the small community, because unlike football the Holland School district already has its own team.
“Some parents contacted me about it,” Buckenmeyer said. “They said it feels like we’re losing our wrestling program.”
But board member Kelleen Kensey said the merger will be a good opportunity for Holland’s wrestlers even if they are no longer competing under their beloved Dutchmen mascot.
In the past some wrestling teams declined to come to Holland, she said, because the school has just nine varsity wrestlers, meaning there weren’t enough weight classes to compete in. On a bigger team, the Holland wrestlers will have more opportunity to compete and practice, she said.
She reminded the board that the district spent $6,000 on coaching and miscellaneous fees for the nine varsity wrestlers and $4,000 for eight modified wrestlers last year.
The planned indoor track merger may present a completely different set of hurdles.
Holland had 26 members on its winter track team last year. Buckenmeyer said a recent survey of East Aurora athletes showed between 50 and 100 would be interested in joining Holland’s indoor track program. Many of those runners would likely come from East Aurora’s huge cross-country program, which is nationally ranked for both boys and girls teams.
Despite the logistical problems, Holland’s athletic director said “the numbers” still make sense for the various mergers. Those numbers include a shrinking student population and shrinking funds for sports. Buckenmeyer became athletic director for Holland in July after his predecessor, Matt Adams, was laid off in a cost-cutting measure by the School Board.
Buckenmeyer urged the district to iron out details with East Aurora as soon as possible. Practice for both wrestling and indoor track starts in nine weeks.
Those two sports were approved in May for merger, but until now the focus had been on football, he said.