Last week, Norwood Public Schools made the tough decision to cancel football for the remainder of the season. The district sent out a community e-blast on Oct. 5 that stated the cancellation was due to “low number of football players” and the “recent number of injuries.”
The online news release added that the district has worked hard to “provide a safe and memorable season.” Still, with only 10 players left of the original 17 that went out for the sport this year, the coaches couldn’t keep football safe going forward.
“Our focus will shift to rebuilding the football program into a team we can be proud of as Norwood Mavericks,” the letter said.
Kyle Dinsmore, the district’s athletic director, told The Norwood Post on Sunday that the team didn’t have many kids to start with. The athletic department and head football coach had talked more into coming out for the sport. But, some quit, and others got injuries.
“We just don’t have enough kids,” Dinsmore said. “Three of the remaining 11 were exchange students. A few were freshmen. I feel bad for the seniors.”
He said recruiting is the plan now for making sure a strong team exists next year.
But a shortage of players is just one difficulty in high school sports these days. Dinsmore agreed it’s becoming increasingly challenging to find line judges, scoreboard keepers, announcers and more at high school sporting events.
“Finding people to help has been tough, not sure if it’s COVID — someone mentioned that — but it’s near impossible to find people to help,” he said.
Dinsmore himself has had to keep the volleyball scorebook during games, since few have offered to do it. He said duties like record keeping are paid duties, but he still can’t fill them.
Referees are a similar story.
“We lost probably half of our refs with COVID,” he said. “They either didn’t want to wear a mask, or they didn’t want to get exposed. That’s a lot of it.”
Dinsmore said the bottom line though is that referees experience stress these days due to excessive anger from crowds.
“Everyone is second guessing, screaming at you,” he said. “Around the state, they’re sending ads and recruiting anyone interested to ref. They’re not getting anybody that wants to do it.”
Norwood is also feeling the bus driver shortage. The district only has two drivers: Glen Colson, who is an elder, and Mike LaCosse.
“That’s all we have,” he said. “If we have sports going on in two directions, it’s tough to rearrange. We are having (the shortage), but everyone in the region is having it too.”
Indeed, Mancos canceled its volleyball game yesterday in Norwood due to transportation issues. Sadly, it can’t be rescheduled for the girls.
And what about coaches? Dinsmore said it took a national ad to find this year’s football coach. And, this winter he didn’t have a basketball coach lined up.
That became a moot point, though, when not enough kids went out for the sport. Now, Norwood will send a few kids down to Nucla for boys, girls and middle school basketball.
He said he doesn’t know what the answer is. His hope is that the upcoming middle school, with higher student numbers than the combined high school’s current population of 38, will play sports. He said he hopes the school has a surge of parent and community involvement for athletic events.
He’s also thinking of hosting a clinic with seasoned experts in line judging and record keeping. He said it might help if Janice Dolezal can school a group of people at once, and then get them signed up to work.