East and West soccer teams merged due to low turnout
By Kayla Lemens, Editor in Chief
Despite being rivals in the past, West Bend East and West girls soccer combined this spring to form one co-op team.
This year the participation from both schools was low enough that the soccer teams could combine without having high numbers. There is precedent for such a move, as the girls golf team, girls swim and dive, boys swim and dive and snowboarding teams already function as co-ops.
“In fact, we were at the point where we would only be able to field a varsity team for each school,” said Erin Felber, the West athletic director. “This is not conducive to helping build a program and it isn’t safe for student-athletes to potentially have to play at the varsity level when they are not ready.”
West was very short on numbers, according to Chris Susnik, the co-op coach.
In order to determine what was best for the program, the West Bend athletic department and coaches determined that the best solution was to combine.
“There was a big push from the girls and parents to merge together, and we surveyed in order to determine if everyone was in agreement,” Susnik said.
The results of the survey was nothing but positivity for merging the two teams. The call to combine the team was made shortly before the season started and there was no tension between the players from different schools.
“They meshed together instantly,” Susnik said.
Not only does the talent of the girls shine through, but they are happy to be playing with their friends. They are all excited to wear uniforms reading just “West Bend.”
“I have seen a new spark on the field, the team chemistry seems to be improved and the girls are thrilled to have enough players where they can sub out and take breaks when needed,” Felber said. “The team is playing really well and I couldn’t be more proud of our athletes and coaches for working together to make this a smooth and successful transition.”.
The merging means there are enough girls to fill varsity and JV1 squads.
Not only have the girls taken to playing together, but the predetermined captains, which represent each school, were all able to bond and lead their team together.
The captains include West senior Ashlyn Muller and East seniors Alexis Gugliotti and Makayla Trahan.
Although the program has received nothing but positive feedback about this season, it remains uncertain whether the merging will continue going forward. There are also no plans to merge additional sports.
“That can certainly change if our participation numbers don’t allow for us to provide students with the best possible high school athletics experience,” Felber said.
(Photos courtesy of Chris Susnik.)