Editor's Note: This story is part of The Partnership Project, a series of content written in an effort by The Daily News to follow the formal collaboration of Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools. Read more in this series here.
Students at the Northside and Southside middle schools might soon be wearing shin guards, pulling up their socks and tying up their shoe laces to play soccer this coming school year.
The Muncie Community Schools Board of Trustees approved the proposal Tuesday for a middle school soccer team at each middle school starting fall 2019.
Northside Principal Eric Grim said in their recently completed intramural sports program, soccer was “one of the most attended intramural program.”
“Consistently 20 to 30 kids would stay twice a week and play without goals, without field painted. I mean, they would just go out to the football field and play soccer, because they enjoyed it so much,” Grim said. “So, I think putting something formal in place will definitely be a benefit to our kids.”
While Southside was unable to gauge the interest in attendance, 60 students responded in a student survey showing interest in soccer as an intramural option and approximately 30 visiting fifth graders raised their hands when asked if they were interested in playing soccer in the fall, the proposal document states. In a survey to incoming sixth to eighth graders at Northside had over 50 students interested.
Starting in the fall, both schools will have boys and girls playing in the same teams, but they might have separate teams depending on the number of students interested.
“We’re putting them together to start with just as a basis and then we’ll see how many actually come out, and go from there,” said Southside Athletic Director Kim Conner.
According to the proposal, Yorktown, Delta, Burris and Highland all have middle school soccer teams that have inquired about playing Northside and Southside. The new soccer season would run from August to fall break.
Each middle school would require a little over $3,000 for a pair of goal posts to be installed in the respective schools’ football fields where soccer games and practices will be held, the proposal states.
While the schools' athletic departments will purchase other necessary items including corner field flags, and Southside has items from its time as a high school, both schools will be looking for sponsors to cover the costs of goal posts, t-shirts for their uniforms and shin guards.
“Roughly around $5,000 would definitely get us going and keep costs down for our first year for the athletes, and then we kind of readjust from there,” Conner said.
Southside Principal Craig Standish said the search for sponsorships will start immediately and they welcome anyone willing to come on board with them.
“That’s a part of being a part of a sport — having those nice things, and being allowed to keep those, and being proud of what you’re participating in,” Standish said. “Businesses can help us in a variety of ways to just get all that equipment.”
Revenues from ticket sales and concessions will help pay for officials and security at games, the proposal states.
“We’ll touch base with the high school coach here in the next week or two and kind of get some suggestions,” Conner said. “We’ll work with HR to get that out there to advertise for it and then we hope to have a coach in place by the end of July.”
Jim Williams, president of the Board of Trustees, suggested reaching out to the Ball State’s Office of Community Engagement for volunteers and reaching out to Ball State’s Athletic Director Beth Goetz for help from the university’s soccer team.
Standish said all the sports programs at the middle schools benefit the students.
“They’ll have to meet the academic criteria in order to participate and that’s a big motivator for our students,” he said. “It gives them something to look forward to.”