PBL school board's extracurricular committee discusses athletic programs


PAXTON — Members of the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board’s extracurricular committee discussed the district’s cooperative athletic programs as well as other sports-related matters in a meeting on Wednesday, Jan 10.

PBL High School Athletic Director Brock Niebuhr told the board that he was monitoring the district’s athletic programs to see if a co-op agreement would be needed in the future, with particular emphasis on wrestling.

“We are continuing to monitor wrestling, just because of our lack of numbers,” he said. “We haven’t reached out to anyone, but our numbers have not improved from year one to year five.”

Niebuhr said there would be a specific process involved in determining which programs to add or drop.

“Obviously when we look at adding anything, we’re going to look at costs, how the numbers are impacted, travel concerns and facility requirements,” he said.

Niebuhr said he had not had any conversations with any schools looking to combine programs with PBL, but said that he would be open to discussion.

As for the wrestling program, he said Rantoul could be a viable option since the Eagles are in Class 2A already and would not have to move up a class. Another option brought up by the board was Iroquois West, which currently has a wrestling co-op with Clifton Central.

Board member Shawn Young said he would consider longevity to be an important factor to consider when adding or dropping programs.

“I don’t want to start something and then two years later have to cut it because we just want it for a certain class,” he said. “I’d assume that if we start something, then it would be here 25 years from now.”

Board member Steve Pacey, however, said the decision should be focused on the quality of the programs.

“I’m not as optimistic as some people are about long-term funding, so I think that we need to look at the quality of the programs more than the quantity of the programs,” he said. “I think the day is coming when we’re going to have a hard time getting the funds to support what we’re doing. If you have a program that costs more but you have enough participants, then that may very well justify it because you are building a brand.”

He also said a program should be questioned if relevant facilities aren’t available.

“I think we need to question sports which we do not have the facilities to make a competitive sport,” Pacey said. “I think we should take a pretty hard look at sports or activities that we don’t have any control over.”

Niebuhr recommended that PBL’s co-op with Rantoul for golf be extended when the time comes for its renewal, saying that the program is working out fine.

Board members wondered if Rantoul would be able to have facilities, with the rumored closure of either Brookhill or Willow Pond golf courses. Niebuhr said Rantoul would still have a golfing facility going forward, with neither of the two courses closing anytime soon. He also said Rantoul would not change classes in IHSA tournament play, adding that the program is playing better competition and visiting better courses than it would have at the 1A level.

PBL Junior High Athletic Director Kelli Vaughn said Rantoul’s golf coach is the course superintendent at Willow Pond, meaning that there wouldn’t be any major problems with having a home facility.

Niebuhr stressed that he would continue to maintain PBL’s programs on their own first before looking outward.

“We will continue to monitor every program, and do what is best for every program,” he said. “I don’t want us to have to co-op with anybody. I want us to be PBL.”

Other business
Also at the meeting:
➜ Niebuhr proposed changes in the district’s hiring procedure for volunteer coaches. Among the items he recommended is a streamlined procedure for approving coaches throughout a sports season instead of having to do it multiple times for each person. Board members discussed AED required training for volunteers, with board president Dawn Bachtold suggesting that the district offer training for applicants. The board took a recommendation for a two-year length in between required training.

➜ Niebuhr recommended the district narrow logos down to one single logo for each of the district’s athletic programs. He said that several Panther logos exist throughout the high school gym, and that he would like to see if one single design could be agreed upon. Superintendent Cliff McClure thought that students should be able to vote upon which logo they would like. Vaughn mentioned that the junior high gym is painted with pawprints, and that logo shouldn’t be changed.

➜ Niebuhr said he has not had any issues with the Sangamon Valley Conference for high school or the Twin County Conference for junior high sports. He did mention that the SVC and River Valley Conferences are considering combining their volleyball tournaments to what they do in the Twin Valley Conference for other minor sports. A low number of programs is the factor behind the request, Niebuhr said.


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