Beth Nichols, who has two children who play soccer, addressed the Board of Education, voicing her concerns about the matter.
“For the past three years we have been shut down, put off and blatantly ignored,” Nichols said. “We’re trying our best to address the issues facing us as we attempt to establish a soccer program at Springville High School.”
Nichols said right now, her children play at a competitive league called Cahaba Springs Soccer Club that as formed in just six months. They play in tournaments in Atlanta, Florida and in statewide tournaments.
Nichols added that she has spoken with Springville High Principal Dr. Robert Harris, BOE president Scott Suttle and Superintendent Jenny Seals.
“We seem to be hitting roadblocks,” Nichols said. “Now, we are up against our final roadblock because we have to turn in paperwork by Dec. 1 in order to have a soccer program by the spring.”
Nichols added she in unable to get an answer out of Harris.
“I respect the man tremendously and have met with him on a couple of occasions,” she said. “But we feel we are getting the runaround and we have not been given straight answers.
“All we are asking for is a simple yes or no. If the answer is no, then why is it no? What obstacles are we facing and what can we as parents do to help remove the obstacles?”
BOE member John DeGaris said he coached soccer at Birmingham-Southern for a couple of years so he is very passionate about soccer.
“I played soccer in high school and played semi-pro soccer for awhile,” DeGaris said. “And I think we should have soccer at Springville. So does Coach Harris. But I know Robert Harris and I know him well enough to know that he is not going to do anything unless it is deliberate and planned out. He’s got a plan for this and it is not going to be Dec. 1.
“I don’t think it will be Dec. 1, 2011. We cannot force soccer on him. It’s not going to work.”
DeGaris added that he understands you can play soccer on a football field.
“But, you can have every soccer parent within a 12-mile radius of Springville, work every day, night and day on that football field and still not have the blood sweat equity in that field to earn the right to play,” DeGaris said. “That’s just the way it is. I believe Coach Harris’ plan is a two-year plan. Leave the man alone about it. Go someplace else.”
Nichols said this subject was first brought up in 2008, so if Harris has a two-year plan, why hasn’t it been implemented within that timeframe?
“Within that three-year period, there have been three other sports implemented they do not have facilities for on campus,” Nichols said. “We’re not asking for anything above and beyond. We are actually willing to except less than a lot of the other sports have been given in an effort for our children to play for our school. All we are asking for is some straight answers and an actual timeline this could be competed.
“Give us the opportunity to help Dr. Harris and the school in implementing these things. That’s all we’re asking for. I respect Dr. Harris but I also respect my children and their teachers and leaders. I expect them to respect my children and respect me and not speak to me as if I were a second-grader.”
BOE member Terry Green said he has known Harris for a long time.
“I think he is all about getting kids involved in programs, whatever they are,” Green said. “If he has some roadblocks concerning this, we need to know what they are. If he needs some help, he needs to come to us. We’ve got kids out there who want to play soccer. We just recognized some students from Ashville who are archery champions. What if someone says, ‘Hey, we’ve never had that here or we’ve never done that before or we don’t have a facility to do that.’ Somebody found a way to make archery happen at Ashville so we need to get behind this.
“I understand what Mr. DeGaris is saying and I know Robert Harris is not going to be forced to do anything. Let’s not force him … let’s help him and make this happen. We’ve got a group of kids at Springville who want to play soccer. Same thing happened at Moody a few years back. We need to work with Mr. Harris and these parents to make sure this happens at Springville … whatever it takes.”
BOE member Angie Cobb thanked Nichols for being so passionate about her children.
“I say that because there are so many parents who do not care,” Cobb said. “I hope we can help you in your endeavors. I agree with Mr. Green that this board needs to see what we can do to help you out.
“Any avenue a child can have to get to the next level to be successful needs to be investigated. We need to see what we can do because that may be their way to get to college. I know this school system is very passionate about making opportunities for students.”
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.