Community coaches react to proposed cuts

People speak out about HRV’s decision to cut six sports for 2003-04 school year

As the Hood River County School District braces for the inevitable budget cuts for the 2003-04 school year, the local sports community is starting to consider ways it can help save a list of five lifetime sports currently on the chopping block.

On the heels of an April 16

announcement that Hood River Valley High School may have to cut funding for six sports — including lacrosse, which is a “club” sport — local coaches and community members are looking at ways to help competitive tennis, golf, swimming, cross-country and skiing survive.

“I don’t think these sports will die out,” said HRV girls tennis coach Barb Hosford, who has been coaching tennis for 21 years.

“I honestly believe Mitch (Sanders) when he says this isn’t a done deal. The community will find a way to back them, and no matter what decisions we come to, the community and the high school will be working together to keep these lifetime sports going,” she said.

Hosford credited the Hood River Sports Club for its active involvement in youth tennis the past few years, and she believes that support will only grow stronger.

“Sports like tennis and golf are going to happen here no matter what,” Hosford said. “We’ll just have to figure out different ways to keep them going, and that may include learning how to run them better.”

Similarly, swimming and skiing will also continue throughout the year, with local clubs such as the Hood River Valley Swim Club and the Cooper Spur Race Team.

Cross-country doesn’t have a current year-round club, but athletes will still have an opportunity to compete in track-and-field during the spring.

However, youth runners in the community may still have a year-round competitive outlet, with devoted coaches like Kristen Uhler, Rich Hedges, Tom Moline, Dave Lucas and Traci Lucas doing everything they can.

“What this is going to mean for the sport of cross-country is that it will have to move to a ‘club’ status,” said Traci Lucas, who coaches the Hood River Middle School cross-country program along with her husband, Dave.

“For us, it would be relatively inexpensive, and there is every reason to believe that (HRMS principal) Bob Dais would help support us in whatever way he can,” she said.

The main thing that bothers Lucas, Hosford and other coaches in the valley is that the school district is only saving $64,000 of a $2.5 million shortfall by cutting funding for these sports.

“I know the school is trying, and I hope all the sports survive,” said HRV swim coach Jane Nichols. “But the burden is going to fall more on the parents and the community now.”

Another concern is that most of the proposed cuts involve lifetime sports — sports that can be played well after high school.

“Life is not about team sports,” Hosford said. “It’s more about personal fitness and participation.”

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