Funds, not numbers an issue for Raiders
ED HEDES/TIMES NEWS Palmerton tennis coach Alex Knoll talks to his team prior to the season opener against Lehighton on Monday. The Blue Bombers return everyone from last season. as does Jim Thorpe. Tamaqua, meanwhile, has had to drop its program as part of budget cuts.
Last year, the Tamaqua Area School District had the troubling issue of budget cuts to deal with. Three sports were put under scrutiny, including boys tennis, cheerleading and golf.
The cheerleading and golf teams' booster clubs were able to collect enough financial backing to rescue both of their programs. One sport that 'didn't make the cut' was the Boys tennis team.
"Last year, we had some budget crunches and three of our programs were unfortunately under the aspect of being cut," Tamaqua Athletic Director Mike Hromyak mentioned. "Unfortunately, the boys team didn't have the funds in their booster program. They tried hard to maintain its existence, but couldn't."
Hromyak is just one of many Tamaqua natives that were saddened to see this occur, along with plenty of other area coaches. The important reason for dismay is the student-athletes' not having the ability to play a sport that they enjoy, but also the fact that students that participate in a sport tend to improve their abilities with their scholastic aptitude.
"It's sad when any sport gets cut because the sports help the kids get better grades in school," Jim Thorpe head tennis coach, Norb Lienhard related. "Not only with academic eligibility, but also the students get a chance to be a part of a team and that increases their willingness to learn."
The importance of athletics being made available to students has been documented and researched as having nearly all positives in many aspects of the educational process. The Blue Raider tennis players from a year ago now need to find another sport to participate in, or other ways to occupy their time.
Palmerton head tennis coach Alex Knoll reiterated, "I feel badly for the student-athletes that played and no longer can anymore. Athletics are an integral part of the educational system."
In this day in age, the sport of tennis across the United States is in trouble and history has shown it being referenced to as "a dying sport." The interest levels aren't always high in learning the sport and participation seems to suffer. Numbers never seemed to be an issue at Tamaqua, however.
"They've always seemed to have good numbers for their teams, both boys and girls," Lienhard added. "It's a shame that it had to happen, but understand they had to do what they had to do."
Jim Thorpe, Lehighton and Pleasant Valley haven't had to deal with this as a potential threat to their programs and don't foresee it as an issue in the near future.
"It has never happened to us, and as a matter of fact, we're thinking about the potential possibility for a girls' team somewhere down the road," Lehighton's Sherry stated.
Meanwhile, a couple years back, Palmerton School District faced these same issues with sports being cut and were saved, due to strong community support that managed to keep all of those threatened sports intact.
"A lot of schools might have to face this challenge somewhere in the future and it is unfortunate," Hromyak admits. "However, there were other things cut in the budget other than tennis, with teachers losing their jobs."
Jim Thorpe's Lienhard brought up his team's need for opponents, saying, "We lost three matches with (Tamaqua) not being on our schedule this year. We had to make those three matches up with other opponents."
The necessity for this move is not being drawn into question, the fact remains that it is unfortunate.
"It is an unfortunate situation that our district was unable to fund the program this year," Hromyak said. "In my line of work we never like to take an opportunity away from the kids. However, there were areas that we had to look at in terms of where we could make cuts and sadly, tennis was one of them."