Hammondsport, Bradford now sports partners
HAMMONDSPORT--The Hammondsport and Bradford school districts have put together a plan for sports team sharing that should allow students to compete even with declining enrollment numbers.
Kyle Bower, superintendent of the Hammondsport Central School District, said his school has partnered with several districts for many years in several sports. Bower said, "We have previously combined with Bradford, Prattsburgh and Avoca."
"What we experienced was there was always a sense of uncertainty going into a season and we started to see some outside influences were impacting which schools some people wanted to combine with for the best team," Bower said. He said the thinking was, "Can we combine with them instead of playing against them?"
Back in January, the Hammondsport school board drafted an agreement inviting four schools to be a part of their sports sharing program. The result was the Bradford school district will be Hammondsport's primary partner for sports team sharing. This means when Hammondsport can't field a team due to limited players, the Lakers will then automatically talk to Bradford first to field a team. If Bradford's numbers are also low, then Hammondsport will talk with the two other schools (Prattsburgh and Avoca) to add players and put together a team.
Bower said, "For this spring season sports schedule, we are partnering with Bradford for every sport except golf. (Bradford didn't have any students who wanted to play golf). But every other sport, from modified boys and girls softball and baseball, varsity softball, baseball and track, we are combined with Bradford. In fact, we actually had enough student athletes this year to field a junior varsity baseball team which we haven't been able to do in years. For tennis, Bradford didn't have students so for that sport we actually have a three-way partnership with our two other school partners, Prattsburgh and Avoca. So it just gives our kids more chances for sports when there wouldn't be otherwise. Furthermore, when the students play a home game in Bradford they wear Bradford uniforms, when they play a home game in Hammondsport they wear a Lakers uniform."
The superintendent said the concept of partnering for sports teams is not a cost reduction for a school's budget. Bower said, "Sharing athletic teams is not a cost-cutting measure and generally does not cut costs. In many cases, the opportunity to provide programming and coaches at additional levels and the additional transportation required actually means some increased overall costs." Bower said their current spring sports schedule involves daily transportation runs between Hammondsport and Bradford.
Bower said, "The parents and the students and have been great in this process. It just works out that more kids get a chance to participate in the team sports they want to play."