The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Ian May
The Times 

DHS, WHS Hold Meetings to Discuss Athletic Combine

First year of the combine has been positive, but there are no plans for expansion


DAYTON – Dayton and Waitsburg high schools held meetings at their respective auditoriums last Wednesday and Thursday to receive feedback from students, parents, and community members on the 2016-17 DW athletic combine.

The meetings were both attended by a little over 10 people. Waitsburg held theirs on Wednesday, while Dayton's was the following day. Comments ranged from praising the feeling of community between the two schools, as well as the combine giving more kids the opportunity to get involved in sports.

DW fielded combined teams in middle school football, softball and baseball, as well as high school football and baseball. This allowed athletes from Dayton to compete in 11-man 2B football instead of the 8-man 1B league they had been a part of in the previous couple of years.

Parents and students voiced their pleasure at the combine allowing the schools to field both varsity and junior varsity teams in football, according to WHS Athletic Director Stephanie Wooderchak. Players also were able to avoid injury and stay healthy due to having more players available each week.

Competitiveness between athletes from the two schools was a worry for some before the start of the combine. However, this worry was unfounded, as the kids from the two former rivals quickly bonded and conflict was never an issue, according to comments from the meeting.

Athletes from Dayton also benefitted from the combine with recognition from college athletic programs. One such athlete is Dayton Senior Cal Martin, who recently signed his National Letter of Intent to play football at University of Redlands in southern California, after a standout senior season last fall with DW football.

DW Head Football Coach Troy Larsen is another supporter of the combine. Larsen, who led the DW Football team to the EWAC league title and the State Quarterfinals, sees the two schools coming together as positive. On top of the team being competitive this year, he also pointed to the fact that the students became friends and missed each other as they moved into winter sports, a sentiment echoed by both Dayton Athletic Director Paul Shaber and Wooderchak.

One of the reasons for the meeting was for the athletic directors of both schools to gauge public support for combined athletic programs going forward. This includes the prospect of expanding the combine to other sports, such as high school basketball and volleyball.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback, both athletic directors said that there are currently no plans to expand the current list of combined sports. One reason for this is the low number of people that attended the meeting, as at least this year's athletics changes affected 30-40 families, while just over 10 people attended the meetings, Shaber said.

Both Shaber and Wooderchak are making efforts to gather more input through surveys in the community. While the sentiments voiced by community members and students have been positive so far, Shaber said that it isn't a simple decision to make.

"What is best for the kids is my driving question," Shaber said. While everything has been seen as positive so far, "...there are so many things that go along with what's best for kids, it makes it difficult," he said.


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