Soccer team dropped for at least one year

Published 7:09 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The struggling national economy affects many aspects of people’s lives—even high school sports programs.

Student-athletes devoting more of their time after school to working jobs in support of their families seems to be the most significant reason behind Chilton County High School not fielding a soccer team this season.

Coach Dan Velasquez said the decision was made after the team started practicing for a season that was scheduled to begin Friday with a visit to Tallassee.

“We had to take a hard look at it and make a decision,” Velasquez said.

Velasquez said so few players were attending practices—as few as six for some sessions—that he became worried about not having enough players available for games. If the team had to cancel scheduled contests, it would cost the school money because officials would have to be paid by the canceling team and no money would be collected from ticket sales.

“We had to take a hard look at it and make a decision,” Velasquez said. “We had money in our account; we probably could have gone through this year. You can’t put your head in the dirt and pretend that this is not happening when it is actually happening.”

Tryouts for the team were held in December 2011, and more than 20 students attended, Velasquez said.

But once practice began, Velasquez said it became apparent that a number of players had conflicts.

“A lot of the boys were having to go to work,” he said. “They were trying to juggle work and school and soccer, and some couldn’t work it into their schedule.”

And the participation continued to dwindle.

The setback is especially disappointing because of the strides the program has made in its eight-year existence. CCHS fielded a B-team for the first time in 2009, and Hunter Bennett became the program’s first player to have an opportunity to play collegiately when he joined the Faulkner University soccer team in 2010.

Velasquez said he plans to try having a team again next season.

He said this year’s players, including 10 seniors, were disappointed but understood the decision.

“They didn’t like it, and I didn’t like it,” Velasquez said. “It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”