WEST MIDDLESEX — High school girls at the West Middlesex Area School District may find themselves playing on the boys soccer team this year.
Sheila Porterfield, whose daughter has played on the girls varsity soccer team since she was a sophomore, will be entering her senior year and was planning to play on the soccer team again. However, Porterfield said the girls were allegedy told last Tuesday by the school district’s athletic director Mike Williams that the team was being cut.
“This was my daughter’s senior year,” Porterfield said. “She was so devastated, she was in tears for ‘meet the team’ night.”
Porterfield said school district officials told her the girls varsity soccer team needed at least 15 players by Aug. 12. However, the West Middlesex teachers’ agreement states that the varsity soccer teams can exist if they have 15 players by the first regular season competition, which has not been held yet.
Porterfield also said there were now 15 girls signed up to play soccer, with another three students in the process of getting their paperwork in order.
Holly Sauer, whose background includes coaching indoor soccer at the Y-Zone in New Castle and serving as the president of the West Middlesex band boosters, said her son is playing on the boys varsity soccer team and she was also against the move to end the girls team.
While the girls varsity soccer team is ending, the girls will reportedly be folded into the boys team. However, both Porterfield and Sauer said they have concerns about creating a co-ed team.
“The boys play aggressively and they’re bigger than the girls,” Porterfield said. “I don’t think I’d let my girl play, because I’d be concerned for her safety.”
Sauer said she was concerned about not just the physicality of girls playing against the boys, but also how issues such as needing extra uniforms for the girls or how the girls would be accommodated in terms of having their own changing areas.
The number of students on the team overall could be an issue, Sauer said.
“These kids worked hard to get to their positions, and they’re either going to be shuffled around or they’re hardly going to get to play if the coaches are trying to figure out how to get every kid on the field,” Sauer said.
Attempts to reach Williams for comment were unsuccessful. West Middlesex schools Superintendent Raymond Omer confirmed the girls varsity soccer team was being cut, but declined to comment further.
The next West Middlesex board of education meeting is at 6:30 tonight in Oakview Elementary School.
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