By Kayla Furlano, Current Staff
What do coaches think about merging East and West?
The WBHS athletic programs will experience major changes if the school board votes to combine the two high schools. The coaches of these teams have conflicting opinions about the potential reconfiguration, and a number of them were asked to express these opinions through a survey. Of the 24 coaches that were contacted for the survey, 16 responded.
The survey asked each coach if they were in favor of keeping the two high schools, or if they were in favor of combining the schools.
Eight coaches opposed combining, seven coaches favored combining; and one coach was indifferent.
Coaches were also given the opportunity to defend their opinion, either through email or interview.
Coaches Against the Merger
Numerous coaches expressed the advantages of having two high schools and their doubts about the combining of the schools.
“Bigger doesn’t always mean better or more competitive,” said Bernie McCarthy, the West girls basketball coach. “My preference is to first have the right people/leaders/coaches in the right spots where they can develop the correct culture for a school. I would like to see two schools continue as separate schools because I think—at least from the West side—we’re headed in a good direction.”
“I want all students who want to participate in sports to be able to do so and I think this limits the opportunities for student athletes and will cut back on our multi-sport athletes,” said West girls tennis coach Kara Petzold.
“The structure in West Bend is one of a kind, there are not any other schools like it, the rivalry between East and West is unmatched and that is what makes the current set-up of schools so unique,” said East boys soccer coach Josh Boyer. “I believe our athletic programs need to evolve and improve.”
“From a coach’s standpoint, it would make me really sad if a lot of students could not participate because of lack of funds or lack of teams. It would be beneficial to keep two schools so more students can participate,” said Laura Vraney, the East girls tennis coach.
Coaches For the Merger
From the opposing perspective, many coaches articulated their viewpoint on why the change from one school to two will be beneficial.
“As a teacher and coach at West, I find it increasingly difficult to generate excitement and support for games and our players when half of my class is our rival. My hope is that one day this community can terminate the divide and come together to support one school,” said Ryan Wietor, the West boys basketball coach.
“We have very little school spirit. It’s hard to have loyalty to one school when you have friends at both. I think we could put together a great intramural program that would allow more students to be involved in athletics. It would just help the school atmosphere—make it more together. The high school experience would just be better for all of our students,” said Melissa Werth, the East varsity dance coach.
“I believe the current model has demonstrated little value and serves as a huge distraction when trying to build support and enthusiasm for our programs. Proponents of the two school system will argue that it promotes participation. My observations have been just the contrary. Many of our programs lack sustainable numbers,” said trap team coach Randy Stark.
“I feel combining the schools would be better for most of the athletic programs—they would be more successful,” said Werth.
The school board plans to vote Monday, Oct. 6.