Athletic participation down at Williams High School

Williams High School cheerleaders motivate the crowd during a recent Vikings basketball game. Wendy Howell/WGCN

Williams High School cheerleaders motivate the crowd during a recent Vikings basketball game. Wendy Howell/WGCN

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Despite steady enrollment numbers, athletic participation is down at Williams High School according to Athletic Director Phillip Echeverria, who addressed the Williams Unified School District governing board Dec. 16.

Echeverria said middle school participation is strong in all sports, but when students reach high school a high percentage is choosing not to compete.

"In our girls program, our number are just crazy low right now," Echeverria said about the basketball program. "I've never seen them this low."

Echeverria said he was pleased with the performances in football, volleyball, cheerleading and basketball this year, but the numbers in football and girl's basketball have been extremely low.

"We're at 12 right now for both varsity and JV (girls' basketball)," Echeverria said. "When I pulled the roster for the whole school we have about 100 girls and there are probably 34 girls that should have come out for basketball. So only having 12 is disappointing."

Echeverria said he has spoken to many students at the school and has attempted to find out why they are not participating in the sports programs. He said he believes many of them have jobs and are more interested in making money.

"I understand that some of them are helping to support their own families," he said. "But the others...I've told them they only have four years to play sports and they have the rest of their lives to work."

Echeverria said there were about 24 boys who went out for football this year with 18-20 typically dressing out each game. He said that ideally they need about 32-35 athletes to fill both a varsity and junior varsity eight-man team.

"I'm satisfied with the progress there but I'm still disappointed with the number of students we're getting out...," he said.

Echeverria said he was happy with the coaching and the performances of all the high school and middle school teams this year.

He said he was impressed with the newly formed eight-man football program and with the success of making it the state playoffs in their first year.

He also commented on the success of the girl's volleyball team under new coach Chesney Grantham. The team also went to the state playoffs for the first time in several years.

"They were really nervous when they stepped out on the court down there, but they fought pretty hard," Echeverria said.

He said the cheer program had a good turnout under new coach Lauren Lickovich.

"We had some interconflict among them last year," Echeverria said. "But we handled it early on this year and the girls responded to that."

Echeverria said the middle school fall sports programs were also very successful, but had a higher turnout of athletes than the high school.

He said the middle school football program had about 20 boys and did well under the coaching of Tad Wygal and Johnny Hatcher.

"They had another outstanding season," Echeverria said. "He (Wygal) does a fantastic job with those young kids down there."

Karli Langenbach coached the middle school cheer team and had 21 girls participate.

"She did a fantastic job," Echeverria said. "We had so many cheerleaders that we didn't have enough uniforms."

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