ESCANABA - Freshman football and cheerleading as well as seventh-and-eighth grade boys' and girls' basketball will be returning to Escanaba's athletic program this season, pending sufficient participants.
In a proposal presented at a July 27 special meeting of the Escanaba School Board, athletic director Dave Wilson asked if the athletic department could raise funds allowing the board to put freshman football and cheerleading back into the high school athletic program.
The board previously had agreed to a budget recommendation at a June 27 meeting that would eliminate freshman football and cheerleading altogether.
"It is a one-year commitment and we'll take it one step at a time," Wilson said this morning. "This is a great opportunity for our kids and it is a challenge to find the funding."
Wilson said Gladstone, Menominee, Kingsford, Negaunee and Iron Mountain are also planning to field frosh football. "We definitely have enough teams to fill an eight or nine-game schedule."
In the proposal, Wilson said freshman athletes can participate in the junior varsity program, but this comes at a cost.
"In football, many freshman boys will find it difficult to play against larger and stronger sophomore boys, thus causing less freshman boys to come out and to stay out for football," said the proposal.
It continued, "In cheerleading, student supervision will be very difficult without a freshman coach, especially when cheerleaders perform cheers and stunting throughout games and practices."
The proposal asked for the raising of $11,500 for the program.
To help reduce this cost, the football team has no charter bus trips scheduled for 2011, which is a savings of $8,000 from last year's four chartered trips. The team also will get some assistance from the Eskymos Fan Club and from fundraising by football and cheerleading.
The proposal is dependent on the number of participants, which will have a clearer indication Monday, the first day of football practice for high school students at 8 a.m.
"By Friday, August 12, we will have a pretty good idea where numbers sit for freshman going out for football," said the proposal.
The board also voted to reinstate seventh-and-eighth grade boys' and girls' basketball teams. Under a budget recommendation from the June 27h meeting, the number of seventh-and-eighth grade teams was to be reduced in half. Reinstating the teams means having two seventh-grade boys' and girls' teams and two eighth-grade boys' and girls' teams.
The funds needed for four additional teams is $8,044. Funds for the program would come from the Escanaba Middle School activities working account, which currently has a surplus of money, and in transportation expenditure reductions.