Mountain View AD and coach talk decision to cancel football season
QUICKSBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Mountain View High School announced the decision Friday to cancel the remainder of its varsity football season due to a lack of participating players.
“It’s one of those things that until it happens you don’t really believe it’s gonna happen and so now that we’re here it kind of puts a whole new spin on things for us as we go forward,” said head coach Kyle Kokkonen.
The school, formerly known as Stonewall Jackson High School, made the decision due to player safety concerns that come with being severely undermanned.
“We tried really hard to explore all the avenues that it was gonna take and really what settled it was we started looking at the risk versus reward, unfortunately we felt like this gave us the best opportunity for player safety all the way around,” said Kokkonen.
Mountain View played just one varsity game this fall before prior to making the difficult decision to cancel the rest of their games, after an injury left them with just 14 available players.
“Once you dip that low it’s not only an issue with games, so much as it’s an issue at practice and how prepared you can be going into games, because it’s hard to create that environment at practice with no extras,” said Kokkonen.
The school’s athletic director says overall athletic participation has been down across the area for the past several years, and that decline has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“We were talking about participation last year a lot with the AD’s in our area, the numbers were just down,” said Keith Cubbage, Mountain View Athletic Director. “With football here, for the past six years our numbers have just been a gradual decline.”
Cubbage thinks the overall decline in high school athletic participation can be traced to the prominence of social media as well as the ongoing pandemic.
“With social media athletics don’t have the social impact that it used to have, it used to be kids gathered at games and kids participated on teams for that social aspect, now they go to Facebook and do everything on their cell phones,” he said. “Also I think being out of school had an impact, we’re trying to bring kids back into the building and get them back on routines when things weren’t always routine last year with online learning, I think that had a huge part in last year’s participation numbers.”
The school will also take a financial hit from the cancelation. “The bills did not go away except for the officiating bills, our booster club loses the opportunity to make money, we lose the opportunity to make money at the gate,” said Cubbage.
Both men say the decision to cancel was made difficult because of how dedicated and hardworking the players on the team are.
“Without that group this would’ve been a much easier decision, had it not been for the group we had that was willing to work so hard, so I really would like to focus on their effort because it was there,” said Kokkonen.
The school will still hold a senior night for the players on the team and is inviting them to help mentor the ninth grade team which will continue playing.
“Right now the focus is making these guys feel a part of it and letting them know they didn’t let us down, nobody let us down, the numbers just caught up with us,” said Cubbage.
The school hopes to be back to playing next year and will ramp up the recruitment of younger kids within the school and area youth leagues.
“We’re gonna continue to reach out, we’ve got a great group of younger kids that we’re hoping we can continue with that way and that they’ll step up and be that class that we really need,” said Kokkonen.
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