ELIZABETHTOWN — Which is more lethal: A flying lion with talons or a landbound eagle with an untamed mane?
It’s a question that Elizabethtown-Lewis and Westport will have to kick around as they enter into the nascent stages of merging their boys varsity and girls modified soccer teams.
Enrollment has been dropping in the districts, said both ELCS and Westport Superintendents Scott Osborne and Dr. John Gallagher, and fewer students from those that remain are interested in participating in interscholastic sports.
Now, they need to pivot to offense to ensure all students have a chance to participate.
“We want to have variety and depth for kids,” Osborne told the ELCS board and members of the public at the school’s monthly board meeting June 10. “And I also have a responsibility for the community to make sure we’re fiscally efficient.”
The districts have already received approval for the merger on an as-needed basis.
“We are not, at this time, at the point of full-on sports mergers,” Osborne later said in a phone interview. “We feel as if we can maintain our own teams. That’s a good thing for kids, too.”
Gallagher stressed the merger is a way to preserve opportunities for all students. “We don’t cut anybody,” he said.
Eleven players are needed to start a game. Last season, ELCS had 13 boys varsity players and Westport, nine.
“We’re now looking at 22 on a combined team,” Osborne said. “This is the spirit of cooperation. One would think that would make for a stronger team.”
‘FAIR AND BALANCED’
Coaches will make a determination as to the playing time for each player. Other outstanding questions — who will coach, where they will play, which uniforms will be worn and which mascot will adorn them — will be ironed out later by the districts’ administration.