Despite cutbacks that eliminated two of Wellington High’s seven fall sports, all are being offered this coming season.
Private fundraising brought back golf and cross country after the district’s board of education eliminated the programs to avoid the $2.4 million deficit it faced.
We caught up with Wellington’s athletic director Denny Ziegler Friday afternoon to find out what’s new with each Dukes fall sports team.
Ziegler said golf has seen an increase in participation this year.
“Golf has 14 participants and this is the first year where they actually have female golfers,” he said. “We have three female golfers on the golf team.”
The Dukes recently purchased new polos with money left over in their fundraising account. It was through fundraising that the team was brought back for this season and fundraising will need to continue if students want a golf team in the future.
Tom Guyer is entering his second year as head coach for Wellington golf. Michael Braddock is the team’s volunteer junior varsity coach.
The team competed in a new match this year on Aug. 13 against Ashland at the Ashland Golf Club. Ziegler said the team liked it and and is interested in going back.
Jason Perry is the cross country team’s new head coach.
He has 22 runners this year, including junior high athletes. The team is split evenly with 11 girls and 11 boys.
“When they run there’s a separate junior high meet for boys and for girls and then there’s a high school boys meet and a high school girls meet,” Ziegler said. “The junior high is not considered part of the high school.”
The team purchased 24 new uniform sets this year with money from the fundraising account. Fundraising also brought cross country back and will need to continue if for the sport to be offered next year.
The Dukes football team has 34 members this year compared to its 38 players last year.
Ziegler chalks the change up to small class sizes. He said only 78 freshmen joined the high school this year.
Sean Arno is starting his second year as the team’s head coach.
Every year the players’ helmets and shoulder pads go through a reconditioning process to see if they are safe for use. This year 12 helmets were rejected and six or seven shoulder pads failed.
The team purchased 12 new helmets and two new shoulder pad sets.
“In the next couple years we should be at the point where they’re all new and shouldn’t be rejected,” he said.
Ziegler is also working with the village police department to start a new tradition where the players walk through downtown Wellington before home games to invite the community to attend.
Head volleyball coach Nicole Scott has 19 girls on the roster this fall.
The Dukes bought new jerseys this year with fundraiser money.
Ziegler said the coaches use a rubric system to decide who plays on varsity or junior varsity squads. They look at everything from attitude to skill level when considering player placement.
Girls can play on both junior varsity and varsity, but they cannot play more that 22 matches in one season.
New coach Valerie Watters heads the Dukes the cheerleaders this fall.
Cheerleaders also purchased new uniforms this year.
Ziegler said a big difference this year is that he’ll have more control over the team.
“It’s still not looked at as a sport through the Ohio High School Athletic Association but in my eyes and for the sake of the district it’s going to fall under the athletic umbrella,” he said.
The squad will still be self-funded and operate the same as it always has, but Ziegler will be more involved with tryouts and if issues arise.
Andrew Lara is the new head coach of the boys soccer teams and Jeff Bartolovich is the new assistant coach.
“They’ve been involved with the youth soccer program for many years and I think they’re going to bring a lot of good things to the program,” Ziegler said. “They know the kids, they know the families, they know their strengths, they know their weaknesses so it really was a good fit for the two of them to take this together.”
The team has 15 participants this year.
The girls’ soccer team is headed Kevin Zeigler. Its numbers are down with only about 16 participants. Roughly 21 girls joined the team last year.
Both teams will be eligible for new uniforms next year.
The district sells a variety of passes for senior citizens, students, and families to encourage community members to attend the games and show support for the Dukes.
Ziegler is also trying to arrange a weekly or biweekly sports show for the district. He’s been in contact with GLW Broadband to arrange tapings and interviewers.
The show will feature everyone from student athletes to coaches, band members, and even drama club participants to get the entire school involved.
GLW Broadband wants to include Midview and Keystone High Schools if the tapings were to air on the local television station. Ziegler said he plans to set up a YouTube channel for the tapings of the show.
He plans to have the segments last about 30 minutes and tape them at new locations every couple of weeks.
The show, which is still nameless, will also include a “Can he do it?” segment were Ziegler will attend practices and attempt to do the drills the students athletes are doing.
The first taping for the show is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug. 25.
Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.
Kelsey Leyva | Wellington Enterprise Wellington athletic director Denny Ziegler gives a rundown of what’s new on each Dukes varsity sports team this season.