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Section VI drops boys gymnastics

After years of decreased student interest, boys gymnastics has been removed from Section VI high schools.

Section VI was the last section in New York State to offer the sport, which schools have been dropping by the year. After Hamburg cut out its program after last season, only Williamsville North, East and South had teams. All three teams were coached by Joe Buscaglia, who was also the sport’s chairman.

Buscaglia heard rumors about the sport being dropped last winter and he said it became official last spring.

“With only three teams in the same district it’s hard to keep it going,” Buscaglia said.

Buscaglia said it seemed every year there were concerns about if the sport would continue. According to a May 13 Section VI athletic council meeting, Section VI averaged a $440 annual loss due to boys gymnastics. But Buscaglia was very thankful to Section VI for keeping boys gymnastics around for as long as it was.

“I know the section is very supportive of boys gymnastics since I’ve been coaching here,” Buscaglia said. “I know they never wanted to get rid of it.”

Buscaglia said the decrease in student interest is what ultimately led to the sport’s removal.

“When you have a team,” Buscaglia said, “and let’s say there’s only three kids or two kids who come out for it, it’s hard to justify keeping it going.”

High School boys gymnastics no longer had a state tournament. The sport isn’t even listed on the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s website. Section VI continued to have sectional tournaments every year, but the season ended afterward.

Buscaglia believes it’s possible a school may bring back its boys gymnastics program in the future and the sport would return. But he was uncertain because “every year there’s less and less schools that have had it and we have gotten to this point.”

Buscaglia thanked Section VI Executive Director Timm Slade, Williamsville Athletic Director Chris Muccia and the rest of the Williamsville ADs for keeping the sport around for so long.

“They have been so supportive at Williamsville and of the program, I can’t thank them enough,” Buscaglia said. “They bent over backwards to keep this program going forward.

“To their credit, they kept it going as long as they could.”

Buscaglia said some of his gymnasts called him and were disappointed about the decision, but Buscaglia said the kids were aware of this possibility. He also added that most kids who go on to play in college are spotted in club competition. He felt the appealing factor of playing for your school was to represent your high school and receive local support from classmates and media.

“If they are going to compete beyond high school,” Buscaglia said, “they need to compete in clubs because that’s where colleges are looking.”

In the end, Buscaglia said the reason was simple. “There just wasn’t enough teams to compete, that’s the bottom line.”