NAUGATUCK — Students who will lose spots on their athletic teams when City Hill Middle School absorbs Hillside Middle School will be given another alternative to stay active.
An intramural program will be offered to all students enrolled in City Hill in the upcoming school year. The program is being developed in anticipation of a spillover of athletes when the merger occurs.
The school will use the second athletic stipend, which will no longer be used for Hillside athletics, to fund the intramural program.
In past years City Hill and Hillside have had separate teams for each sport. Those separate squads are now consolidating into singular teams, which will bump athletes that were on teams last year, or would have had a chance to make them this year, off the rosters.
As it becomes more difficult for athletes to make varsity teams, the intramural program will give athletes who fall short a chance to still play. It will also allow those who wish to partake in sports, but only at a recreational level, an opportunity to do so.
“We feel the intramural program is a good option,” John Tindall-Gibson, Superintendant of Naugatuck Public Schools, said at a Board of Education meeting last week. “It will allow a large number of students to be involved.”
Representatives from Hillside, which housed 308 students last year, and City Hill, which housed 470 students, had first contemplated keeping two separate teams intact. The idea was to have a seventh-grade team and an eighth-grade team, so the same amount of kids could have been on teams as before. This idea though was turned down for a number of different reasons.
“It was suggested that we have a seventh- and eighth-grade team, but that just wouldn’t work,” said Thomas Pompei, Naugatuck High School’s athletic director and vice president of the Naugatuck Valley League. “There is no developed schedule for seventh-grade athletics at other middle schools in the area. They would end up playing the other schools’ full teams and would struggle. It would also hold some younger advanced players back that have the skills to be playing at the highest levels.”
Plans for intramurals were in the works several years ago at City Hill, but the program never got off the ground. The funding was there; between $6,000 and $8,000 was set aside for the project, but student participation was absent and the program was abandoned.
This time around, with a bigger student body and a fewer available spots on the competitive teams, there is little worry among administrators that participation will be an issue.
“I think we can actually have more students participating in athletics,” Pompei said. “Even with fewer kids playing organized sports, between that and the intramurals, the numbers can increase from what they have been the past few years with solely competitive teams.”
The shape of the program will be a league within the school. The number of participants will determine the number of teams, but schedules will be made and teams will compete against one other.
The program will be conducted on-site so there will be no costs associated with transportation. The intramurals will take place twice a week, and will start directly after school.
Competitive teams may have to occasionally alter their practice schedules to leave courts and fields open for intramurals, but Pompei says all the coaches have expressed their willingness to do so and that it should not be any sort of deterrent.