Forest City, Carbondale to co-sponsor three sports

BY JOBY FAWCETT

Times-Shamrock Writer

Hoping to offer more opportunities for their student-athletes, Carbondale Area and Forest City have agreed to co-sponsor several sports for the next two-year cycle.

Both school boards have signed off on the request and the proposal will go to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association for approval.

“This opens up opportunities for our kids to participate in sports that because of our size, we don’t sponsor at our school,”Forest City superintendent John Kopicki said. “We are excited because it really benefits both schools.”

In the agreement, Carbondale Area and Forest Citywill co-sponsor football, boys and girls volleyball and boys and girls track and field.

Carbondale Area will be the host program for football and track and field, while Forest Citywill be the host school for volleyball.

“We have an interest in our student body to participate in volleyball and this also gives the students at Forest City the opportunity to participate in the sports that we sponsor,” Carbondale Area principal Joe Farrell said.

Forest City first approached Carbondale Area with the idea in November.

If the PIAA approves the proposal, it will change the enrollment numbers for the two schools. However, only girls volleyball is projected to change, moving from Class A to Class AA.

Carbondale Area’s female enrollment number for students in grades 9 through 11 is 207.ForestCity’s submitted number is 91.

When placing a program that is co-sponsored, the PIAA takes 50 percent of the lesser figure and adds it to the larger number. So that would make theCarbondaleandForestCity’s co-sponsorship number 252. The Class A parameter for girls volleyball is an enrollment of 1 to 178.

“That is something we looked at, but we compete in a division that includes big schools like Abington Heights and Montrose and Western Wayne, so we agreed to move up,” Forest City athletic director Brian Durkin said.

ForestCitysubmitted a male enrollment number for students in grades 9 through 11 of 106. Carbondale Area has 241 boys.

Therefore, Carbondale Area’s new enrollment number would be 294, which would keep it a Class AA program for football and track and field.ForestCitywould remain Class AA in boys volleyball.

That was a main factor in reaching the agreement. Two other co-sponsorships in the Lackawanna Football Conference impacted the program’s classification. Susquehanna competes in Class AA, because of the addition ofBlue Ridge’s enrollment. And next season, Montrose will move up to Class AAA because of its new agreement to co-sponsor the sport withElkLake.

“One of the things that is outlined in the contract agreement is that if we bumped up a classification, we would opt out of the co-sponsorship,” Carbondale Area athletic director Erik Larson said.

“We are excited, because we want to be able to increase our students’ participation and interest in these sports.”

ForestCityhas had athletes compete in track and field in the past and they have qualified for the District 2 and PIAA meets.

The impact on football, however, remains to be seen.ForestCitydoes not sponsor a junior football program. There are some players who reside in that district who do play on the Carbondale Junior Chargers.

“In the short-term, how much of an impact this will have is hard to tell,” said Carbondale Area football coach Larry Gabriel III, who is also involved in theCarbondalejunior football program. “But in talking with some parents fromForestCity, their children don’t come out for football because after eighth grade, they would no longer be able to play.

“With this new opportunity, maybe more kids will come out for football.”

Transportation is expected to be provided by Carbondale Area to the schools for students who are participating in practices. Parents will be required to pick up their children at the practice site.

“We feel that the cost to co-sponsor the sports will be minimal and this is not something that we would have proposed if it weren’t cost effective for both schools,” Kopicki said. “The athletic directors, Brian Durkin and Erik Larson, have done a great job of putting this together. And they are going to have to work together closely to have it work.

“I think it’s great for the students at both schools.”