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Clear Spring High ready to kick off football program

March 11, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - With new goalposts waiting on the field and coaches jockeying for the job, Clear Spring High School's first football program is gearing up for kickoff.

The Washington County Board of Education on Feb. 25 approved the start of a football program at the last county school without a football team after members of the Clear Spring Football Committee met all the requirements for starting such a team.

The group raised money for start-up costs and provided evidence of student interest in the sport. Clear Spring High's soccer field is big enough to accommodate football, and area coaches have expressed interest in guiding the new team, Principal Martin R. Green said.

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Clear Spring's new junior varsity team will join the Monocacy Valley Athletic League in the fall. The school will host its first varsity team in 2004, Committee President Gil Dyer said.

"It feels good - but we still have a long way to go," Dyer said.

Committee members spent more than a year raising the $40,000 needed to launch the program. They solicited private and business donations and held basket bingos, bonanzas, a talent show and a golf tournament to raise money for everything from players' uniforms and footballs to hand dummy shields and a tackling sled, said Kim Faith, chairwoman of the fund-raising committee.

Del. Leroy E. Myers Jr., R-Allegany/Washington, and Clear Spring businessman Donald Bragunier each contributed $5,000 for the project, said Dawn Brown, committee secretary.

The group has planned a second golf tournament in May to help raise the estimated $7,000 needed for a scoreboard and $30,000 needed for new bleachers to accommodate spectators at varsity home football games, Brown said.

The school board has allocated $12,000 in its proposed budget to help with start-up costs, including about $2,300 for officials' fees and about $5,500 for stipends for one head coach and two assistant coaches.

Although the coaching position has not been advertised, Green said, he already has received applications for the position. And coaches aren't the only people excited about the new team in Clear Spring.

"Most of the kids want to know why we didn't do it years ago," Green said.

In the past, Clear Spring High didn't have the student population needed to support a football program - a shortcoming that spurred some student athletes to attend other county high schools, said Green, a former football coach.

Nearly 40 current high school freshmen and sophomores expressed interest in playing for the new team this fall, and 30 male athletes at Clear Spring Middle School indicated through a school survey that they would play football in high school, according to a letter from Green to Eugene "Yogi" Martin, supervisor of athletics for the county Board of Education.

More than 50 Clear Spring-area students in grades three through eight participate in county youth football leagues, Green wrote.

The addition of a football team and a new track, which is slated for construction this spring, will make Clear Spring High a "tremendous sports facility," he said.

And that's just what those behind the football effort want to hear.

"We're interested in working to make all sports better," Brown said.

"We want what's best for the kids," Faith added.

Members of the football committee already have joined the high school's Athletic Boosters Club - which spearheaded the successful effort to add lights, dugouts and a new concession stand to the school's sports fields - to help strengthen all the school's sports programs, Dyer said.

"Now we're working from the inside," he said.

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