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Holland football faces obstacles

The results of a football feasibility study commissioned by the Holland School Board earlier this year were released this week, and now the board must decide whether to field a team.

Gerald Glose, a consultant with the Western New York Education Service Council, presented the results to the board Wednesday night.

He said the district would have to overcome several hurdles before varsity or junior varsity football could be considered. First, in a district with less than 1,200 students and a declining enrollment -- 9.6 percent over the last five years, with another 7.5 percent projected in the next five years -- the study asked whether Holland can field two teams totaling about 50 players.

Last fall, about 60 male athletes played on the highly ranked soccer team and in volleyball.

Facilities questions also weighed heavily against the sport coming to Holland. With one field solely dedicated to field hockey, Glose said that left just three soccer fields to meet the needs of eight teams: six for modified, junior varsity and varsity soccer, both boys and girls, and the two football teams.

"Maintaining the fields for these rugged sports would be demanding and next to impossible if the season was rainy," Glose said.

The board sought the consultant's services after a group called the Holland Football Club approached the district last November about privately funding football at the school for one generation, or 13 years, at an estimated cost of about $483,000 over the full period.

However, no allowances were made for facilities upgrades in the group's cost estimates.

Board members reacted cautiously.

"I don't want to destroy or whittle down what we have, and I don't want to saddle people in the district. We've asked district taxpayers to do as much as they can," School Board President Joseph Kujda said.

Michael Liddle was concerned with financial questions, particularly where the financing is coming from, an issue about which Anthony Perlino, president of the Holland Football Club, remains vague.

Perlino, however, suggested that a Holland football team would be good for the town, as well as the school.

"Don't be hasty. Unless something is done here, the next decision you could be facing is which school to close, the middle school or the high school," he said.

At the board's request, Superintendent Garry Stone agreed to prepare a comprehensive athletic plan, addressing all levels and types of sports in the district, before the football issue is debated any further.

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