Trying to fill out a lineup for its middle-school wrestling team, Morris Elementary Dist. 54 has proposed forming a joint team with other area districts.
Of area schools they compete against, Shabbona Middle School has one of the lowest enrollments, with just 259 seventh and eighth graders last school year, compared to Minooka Junior High School’s 834, Channahon Junior High School’s 378, and Coal City Middle School’s 320.
That’s led to only eight of 19 spots being filled on last year’s team, according to Dist. 54 Superintendent Teri Shaw.
“We’ve got a much smaller enrollment than a lot of other schools,” Shaw said. “We have trouble filling the spots.”
The plan would allow students from Saratoga, Nettle Creek and Immaculate Conception to join the team. Shabbona would run the program and pay for transportation costs to away meets and tournaments.
Participation fees — which pay for coaching staff, equipment and home meet referees — would be paid for by individual students.
The Saratoga Elementary Dist. 60C board discussed the possible move at its regular meeting Monday, and seemed to support it the idea.
“I think it would be a great opportunity,” Board Member Scott Thorson said.
Though participation would not directly cost Dist. 60 anything, the board did have concerns about who would pay for transportation from Saratoga to Shabbona for home meets and practices.
Board Member Anne McDonnell suggested making those interested in participating responsible for their own transportation to Shabbona.
The wrestling season is from November through February.
Some board members questioned if this would take away from participation in basketball, which runs at the same time, but Thorson said the two sports tend to draw different students.
“They’re very different [sports],” Thorson said.
Saratoga does not have a wrestling program currently, and board members suggested it could give students not currently involved in a sport a chance to participate.
“It’s really hard to fill out a line-up,” Dist. 60C Superintendent Kathy Perry said.
Shaw said approving the measure would benefit all the districts involved.
“We can’t fill our spots,” Shaw said. “The other districts don’t have the program.”
The measure, Shaw said, could solve those problems.
Shaw said Immaculate Conception has already indicated some interest.
The Saratoga board did not take action, as it was an informational item on the agenda, but seemed supportive.
If the districts decide to form a cooperative wrestling team, they would have to file an agreement with the Illinois Elementary School Association by Oct. 1.
The agreement would be for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, and would be renenwable between the four school districts and the IESA.
The team would continue to be known as the Shabbona Middle School Wrestling Team, nicknamed The Braves.