A new era

Budget woes have forced HRVHS and the community to re-evaluate athletics

Six sports at Hood River Valley High School could take on a different shade of “Blue and Gold” during the 2003-04 school year.

The April 16 proposal to reduce funding for five of the school’s 13 sports programs, plus the club sport of lacrosse, has been met with varying degrees of speculation and trepidation.

“It’s really sad for me because I helped build a very successful program that seemed to be doing just fine,” said boys golf coach Bill DeBorde, who also teaches at the high school.

“I believe that there will be a golf team next year, but with my commitment to teaching, I won’t be able to take an active role like I did this year,” he said.

Girls golf coach Lynn Mitchell, who is retiring at the end of the school year, doesn’t know what his role might be with the team.

But he has faith that the two local courses, Indian Creek and Hood River Golf Course, will do everything they can to support competitive youth golf teams.

“Giving these kids an opportunity to golf is their livelihood,” Mitchell said, referring to the two local greens. “It makes sense for them to get behind the teams

because the kids represent their future members.”

Like Indian Creek and HRGCC, sports facilities such as the Hood River Aquatic Center, Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline and the Hood River Sports Club have all greatly contributed to the growth and prosperity of three more sports that are in potential danger: swimming, skiing and tennis.

“We’ll do anything we can to keep tennis going in Hood River,” said Hood River Sports Club tennis pro Kevin Beeson. “I think we can make it work, even if it’s club tennis. Our courts are available to the kids whenever they want to use them.”

Hood River Parks and Recreation, which maintains the Aquatic Center and the May Street tennis courts, also plans to stay behind the effort to preserve the five “lifetime sports” that could be lost if the Local Option tax levy fails on Sept. 16.

If the county-wide measure does not pass, it will be up to the school board to decide how to cut $80,000 in “co-curricular” expenditures, including sports and activities such as drama and cheerleading.

“If the high school tennis program were to be cut, it could

potentially ruin the growth of junior tennis in Hood River,” Beeson said. “Especially with the young kids. If they don’t have a ‘high school team’ to go out for, it may persuade them to play another sport.”

HRV tennis coaches Barb Hosford and Shayla Moline share Beeson’s fears, but both are committed to maintaining a program that is on the rise.

“We had a great turnout this year,” Hosford said. “This was the biggest group we’ve had in years, and it’s hard when you can’t find playing time for everyone. But the good news is, more and more kids want to play.”

The same can be said about the HRV cross-country teams, coached by Rich Hedges and Kristen Uhler, as well as the swimming (Jane Nichols), golf (DeBorde, Mitchell) and skiing (Jessica Gunesch) programs.

“We just want to keep the program together and keep the interest there,” Uhler said. “We’re not sure what kind of a team we’ll have next year — we don’t even know who is going to coach. But there are some really great young runners coming up, and it would be a shame to see their talent go to waste.”

But, in the meantime, all Uhler and the other coaches can do is wait and hope.

And have their back-up plans ready.

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