Future of Montrose field hockey uncertain
BY STACI WILSON
Lagging interest due to declining enrollment and other fall sports offerings has taken its toll on the Montrose field hockey program which could be on the chopping block for the coming year.
Athletic director Joe Gilhool told the school board Monday night the numbers aren’t there for the district to maintain the program. In 2010, there were 25 on the team with each year after seeing a gradual decline. This past season, the team had only nine members.
Gilhool said he had reached out to Elk Lake, in hopes that the schools could form a joint team – as they do in football and swimming. Elk Lake’s school board refused the proposal in April, stating that the joinder worked for football and swimming because each school lacked the necessary equipment and facilities for the other sport. Elk Lake students play football on the Montrose team; while Montrose swimmers and divers participate on the Warrior swim team. Elk Lake also typically has enough of their own players to fill their field hockey roster.
If the program continues at Montrose, Gilhool told the board, “You’re looking at 10 students at the most.” And that number, he continued, was contingent on the middle school players continuing with the sport as they moved into high school. “My belief is the numbers are not going to get better,” he said.
On top of the waning interest, Gilhool also said the distance the team needs to travel to compete creates a “huge expense” for transportation.
Schools closest to Montrose with field hockey teams are Elk Lake and Tunkhannock. Beyond those, Gilhool said the team travels to the Wilkes-Barre area to play and even played at Berwick in the past season.
Superintendent Carol Boyce highlighted the program’s budgetary impact. She said the field hockey program costs the district about $14,000 per year.
If field hockey was eliminated, fall sports available to female athletes at Montrose would include soccer, cross country, golf, tennis and volleyball.
Board President Chris Caterson said the girls’ volleyball team carries a roster of 20-25 players. “That had to have an impact (on field hockey),” he said. The number of players on the tennis team has also increased.
The board took no action regarding the future of field hockey at the school.