Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
NEDERLAND — Dwindling enrollment and participation numbers have forced the Nederland Senior High School administration to make a difficult decision about the future of its athletic department.
Once it became clear that it was not sustainable for the small mountain school to offer multiple boys team sports in the fall, the Nederland administration decided on Wednesday to offer boys soccer instead of 8-man football starting with the 2018-19 school year.
“We are dedicated to doing what is best for the students at our schools. We listened to the feedback received from students, their families and the community,” Nederland principal Carrie Yantzer said in a press release from the Boulder Valley School District. “Given the strong support and the feeder programs already present in the community, we feel that there is enough support behind soccer to make it sustainable.”
In the past year, the Panthers have dealt with public outcry in response to the dismissal of former head football coach Aaron Jones and hired Beth Buglione as the first female high school football coach in Colorado history. Regularly struggling to field the minimum number of players, the Panthers forfeited two games and lost all five games they played while being outscored 258-44.
With participation numbers down across all of Nederland’s athletic programs, the school formed a committee this year to review its athletic and activity offerings and that committee recommended to Yantzer that Nederland should offer boys soccer and not football. Included in the information reviewed by that committee were surveys athletic director Rick Elertson conducted on the Nederland middle school students as to which sports they would be most interested in playing at the high school level.
Under Colorado High School Activities Association rules, Nederland students who wish to play football next season will be allowed to do so for the program at Boulder High School.
Nederland held a public meeting on Jan. 10 at which players, parents and community members were given the opportunity to get more information and voice their concerns before Yantzer made her final decision this week.