Sports Editor’s Playbook, Aug. 29, 2012

Patrick Newell

Long time between posts. I should be more prolific now that high school sports is kicking up.

* Congratulations to Greene junior soccer player Paige Wilcox, who broke the Greene girls’ soccer scoring record Tuesday afternoon. In the midst of a whopping six-goal game, Wilcox surpassed the 70 career goals of Amber Pratt. Wilcox has 72 for her career with all of this season still ahead. She may get to 100 this year, but I have heard talk among Greene residents that the girls’ soccer program is suffering from a dearth of actual players, and will need to keep the numbers up in order to continue to the program in ensuing years. It would be a shame to lose the program, especially for Wilcox and her teammates who won a league championship just two seasons ago.

* I may expand on this next topic at a later date. It is plainly obvious that some area schools are getting a woeful turnout for high school sports. Take Oxford, for instance. The team dropped field hockey this year, and I was told earlier this week that the varsity boys soccer team was scrapped due to low numbers. Both of those clubs have been around for a long time, and in the case of field hockey, it won multiple sectional titles over the past 25 years. According to my schedules, Oxford has just one varsity boys sport this fall – football. The football team has less than 30 players, and it draws from students primarily in 10th through 12th grade. According to enrollment numbers, Oxford averages between 60 and 65 students per grade level. Doing the math, there are around 30 to 35 boys per grade level in grades 10 through 12, and that equates to a pool of approximately 100 boys. For whatever reason, just over 25 percent of the available boys are actually participating in an extracurricular varsity sport when you dismiss the dozen or so kids who initially signed up for soccer. In a school the size of Oxford, participation in sports is fundamental in perpetuating a program. Not too long ago, I remember Oxford sustaining a varsity and junior varsity football team, while also easily fielding a varsity soccer team. At one point, there were varsity and junior varsity teams for football and boys’ soccer. Enrollment has slipped some, but how can a school that regularly produced four high school teams in two sports drop to just one high school team? I’d love to hear some thoughts.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat