Halifax, Millersburg schools reject sports co-op expansion

HALIFAX, Pa. (WHTM) — A proposed expansion of co-op sports programs between the Halifax Area and Millersburg Area School Districts has been rejected.

A packed room of attendees witnessed a unique joint meeting between members of both districts’ school boards. Superintendents Dr. Michele Orner of Halifax and Millersburg’s Thomas Haupt partnered to present a proposal to combine the two schools’ girls soccer programs beginning in the 2017-2018 season.

Orner explained that the idea began when Halifax recruited one of its smallest girls teams in school history, with just 18 registered student/athletes expected to participate in the fall. Orner said combining with Millersburg’s team for one year would allow young players, or those with no playing experience at all, to learn the game as part of a junior varsity squad.

Both superintendents agreed that current players on separate teams often lack the experience to compete. Orner added that if a Halifax team of 18 players lost only a handful of girls throughout the season, it could lead to forfeitures and possibly affect the boys soccer team due to Title IX regulations.

Additionally, the superintendents presented data suggesting that other varsity sports, including football, basketball and baseball have been or are projected to face a similar lack of participation in coming years.

Orner and Haupt offered a projected timeline for beginning future co-op sports relationships to eventually combine all Halifax and Millersburg varsity sports by 2021. Depending on which school acted as the host school, players would continue to play under the Millersburg or Halifax colors and mascot, the Indians or Wildcats, respectively.

Community members expressed both support and concern over the proposed co-op plan. Some parents worried their children would be lost in the shuffle of a larger, combined team and lose playing time while others said it would end a historic, often bitter backyard rivalry enjoyed by Halifax, Millersburg and Upper Dauphin Area School Districts.

Proponents of the sports co-op say it would make for a more competitive team in the region and offer more exposure to student/athletes hoping to be recruited to the collegiate level.

While the superintendents were seeking an immediate vote on the proposal to co-op the girls soccer team, the greater co-op plan was only meant to spawn discussion. The combined boards voted to reject both the girls soccer co-op and future discussion of the greater proposal.

Halifax and Millersburg will continue current sports co-op relationships in golf, swimming, track and field, and wrestling.

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