NINETY SIX — A handful of extracurricular leaders and parents asked Greenwood School District 52’s trustees not to restrict the days that students can practice, citing competitive disadvantage.
The board met Tuesday to discuss a handful of topics, including the possibility of restricting extracurricular groups from practicing on national and religious holidays. The board also discussed the possibility of using one common communication method for all extracurriculars.
Ninety Six High Athletic Director Brian Wertz and Band Director David Vickery spoke about both topics.
Regarding holidays, Wertz said he was caught off guard when he saw the topic on the agenda, as it was the first time he had heard of a problem.
“It kind of caught me off guard because what do we expect from our coaches? Commitment, sacrifice, success, all these things right here,” Wertz said.
“If we go restricting the practice times for our coaches, then the people we’re playing are going to have a competitive advantage over us.”
He mentioned in his 40-some years of being involved in sports, every football team he’s been a part of has practiced on Labor Day.
He said the dream of football players is to practice on Thanksgiving morning because it means they’re playing for the Upper State championship.
Vickery told the board he is not in favor of it dictating when a program can practice. He mentioned the parades that happen around holidays, adding already this year he has received emails about Ninety Six’s band participating in parades across the country.
He can’t say he hasn’t practiced on a holiday, but doesn’t make it a habit to practice on holidays, he said, adding that if necessary he would.
“I just absolutely disagree with any kind of policy that would put our students at a disadvantage competitively,” Vickery said. “This isn’t parks and rec; this is a competitive group at this level.”
Parent Tony Davis mentioned to the board there is already an organization that governs sports seasons, the S.C. High School League.
“So if we want to change something there, my suggestion would be we petition the high school league to change something so then it changes for everyone and you have a fair playing field,” Davis said.
Jay Reynolds, athletic booster club president and parent of three athletes, said a change for extracurriculars wouldn’t just affect sports and marching band, adding that academic teams couldn’t prepare on holidays and drama students couldn’t rehearse.
“I think the intent was maybe good for this to be a positive, but sitting back and looking at it, it’s not that great of an idea,” Reynolds said.
Board member Bryan Green agreed with those who spoke, saying “I think you’re all right on.”
Chairman Kevin Campbell spoke about the need to restrict practices on holidays.
“I do not think that we need to compromise our children’s time with their families on holidays,” he said, adding he isn’t opposed to competing on holidays, just practicing.
“It sounds to me like y’all want to keep on the way we’re going,” Campbell said.
“I’m fine with that, but I want to make sure y’all understand that there are people out there that resent having their children taken away from their families or being penalized when they put all the other time in, they put all the effort in but they don’t get the time spent with their family on the holidays when their parents don’t have to work.”
Superintendent Rex Ward told the board the district administration is “against restricting practices on holidays.”
The board also heard from Wertz and Vickery regarding a need for a common communication app across all extracurriculars.
Wertz mentioned the multiple ways teams communicate – group texts, Group Me, the Band app and others.
He said his concern is making sure if there is a cost for using one app only, that the district covers it.
Vickery told the board about the app the band uses, Remind 101.
“What I have going on is very effective, I just don’t want to be put into a corner of using a specific app for my organization that may or may not work for me,” he said.
No decision was made on either topic during the meeting.