JV programs back at Rochester schools
Money to be raised through increaseof ticket prices
By Pat Ruff
It's going to cost adults an extra dollar to get into Rochester public high school athletic events this school year.
However, the hike comes with a substantial payoff. The added revenue is being used to return junior varsity boys and girls basketball at Century, Mayo, and John Marshall, as well as junior varsity baseball and girls softball.
Those programs were sliced for the first time last school year, as part of an eight-year trend of trimming sports programs in order balance the athletic department budget. Only the JV cuts were like none other that Rochester supervisor of athletics Gary Addington had made in his 16 years in the position. With virtually nothing small left to trim at the time, he had to think big.
Addington did, then hoped in coming years there would soon be a way to bring back those four junior varsity programs to the Rochester public schools.
He's found it in raising ticket prices. Adults will be the only ones affected, as their cost of admission goes from $5 to $6. Addington said that is in line with prices at most schools of like size in the Big Nine Conference and throughout the state. Some metro-area schools, he points out, have hiked adult tickets to $7.
As for Rochester prep sports consumers, Addington considers the $1 dollar jump a small price to pay when you consider the big picture. Foremost in his mind in the reinstitution of the junior varsity level was keeping the number of high school athletic participants at a high level in Rochester. He'd seen participation numbers slip the last school year, likely as a result of the loss of JV programs, and was certain that trend would only increase in coming years.
Intended for high school juniors
Junior varsity is intended for athletes in their junior years who practice with the varsity, but play little or not at all in varsity games. So a separate JV game schedule is established for them.
That schedule didn't exist a year ago, meaning many juniors were left to do nothing but practice with their teams. Coaches indicataed that not only did the athletes miss out on the fun of playing actual games, but it hindered their development, something that seems likely to impact the competitiveness of varsity teams this coming season. The coaches will be inheriting a handful of seniors with no game experience from last year.
Addington is relieved to announce that that trend is about to stop. The only athletic activity that did not get JV back was cheerleading, which picks its teams in the spring. Addington did not want them choosing their squads over again, but left open the possibility of cheerleading getting junior varsity back in future years.
Still, he is pleased to reintroduce JV in as many programs as he has.
"(The loss of JV) had impacted participation," he said. "It had also become immediately apparent that it could have an impact on our varsity competitiveness.
"But for me personally, my biggest desire was to get back things that (in their absence) have had a negative impact on participation. And this is clearly a step in the right direction.''
Coaches, players elated
Addington is not the only person feeling good about the return of JV. Coaches and players are just as elated.
"Over time (not having JV) would have had a big impact," said Terry Heiderscheit, who was affected in two sports as the head John Marshall girls basketball and baseball coach. "In a year or two, as far as having kids out for sports and staying competitive, it would have made a big difference. I've already heard of three or four girls who are coming out for the basketball team now who wouldn't have had there been no JV."