photo by Lydia Stern

CBCS adding two new sports to high school athletic program

Hockey and girls soccer to become Titans

by Than Acuff

It’s been a long time in the works for one sport and a short road for another, but it’s finally coming to fruition this year. Both girls high school soccer and boys high school age (aka midget) hockey are joining the athletic program at the Crested Butte Community School and will be Titans.

The idea of a high school girls’ soccer team has been kicked around for a while. With no girls’ team until now, those that wanted to play joined the boys’ program in the fall. But the number of girls playing now dictates that this year is a good  time to take the idea and make it a reality in the spring of 2016.

“It’s been talked about off and on for the past 10 years and the past four or five years I’ve heard the numbers are coming,” says CBCS athletics director Julia Kidd. “The numbers this year might be a little low but we’ve been tracking numbers at parks and rec and it’s only going to grow.”

One aspect of the addition of high school girls soccer that will make the transition easier is the energy around the league supporting CBCS soccer.

“Our league is super excited about it,” says Kidd.

Kidd hopes that with a league already in place she could schedule as many as 12 games in its first season this spring. While they will start by competing against JV programs, as numbers continue to grow they should jump into varsity play relatively soon. That bodes well for a future at the state tournament as the state offers a tournament for 2A size schools like CBCS. The boys program must compete in class 3A.

The CBCS team is also open to any players from the Gunnison High School to participate since CBCS is the only high school in the district offering the program.

The biggest hurdle for the spring sport, as it is with all spring sports, will be the weather. The girls’ season opens on February 29 when the fields are still covered in snow.

photo by Lydia Stern
photo by Lydia Stern

“We can hold practices in the gym and hope to get time on the field in CB South and in Gunnison two days a week,” says Kidd. “We can figure that out. Track already does one day a week in Gunnison.”

Speaking of track, Kidd believes with numbers growing at the school, offering high school soccer to girls gives the student/athletes another option in the spring.

“With the numbers in track and field and the numbers coming into high school, it’s the right thing to do,” says Kidd. “We want to keep kids active.”

Hockey has gone through several changes over the course of the past four years. Leagues available to local teams at the state level come and go and the two programs in the valley, the Gunnison Blades and the Crested Butte Wolfpack, joined forces last year under the West Elk Hockey Association umbrella as the Wolverines.

USA Hockey has been pushing to create a level of midget hockey into the high school format. While the AAA level club hockey will continue, high school hockey will provide a more consistent venue for players just under the AAA tier.

“The push nationwide has been AAA will be only AAA and everyone else should play high school hockey,” explains Wolverines head coach Joe Otsuka. “Colorado is one of the first states to start going that way.”

Kidd explains the CBCS hockey team will spend its first year competing in the newly formed JV league and then wait until the 2016-2017 season when the varsity league enters its two-year cycle for scheduling.

“Right now we’re putting it out to any schools that have JV teams to get games,” says Kidd. “We have six games and are hoping to get more. It will be a lot of travel.”

Otsuka believes that when the Titans make the jump to varsity for the 2016-2017 season, they should be right in the mix talent wise.

“I saw a number of varsity games last year and with the athletes we have in this valley, we can be in the top third of the varsity level,” says Otsuka.

The Wolverines club team will continue this year as well as the Titans team and both will be open to players from Crested Butte and Gunnison. Once team declarations come out September 24 for both the high school league and the club league, Otsuka and the coaching staff will get together to decide where to put their top players to get them the best competition possible.

“We don’t know which team will be in the JV league,” explains Otsuka. “We will declare our intentions based on the leagues. The JV league might not be as attractive for our varsity players.”

Kidd hopes to have both a JV and varsity team playing as Titans by the 2016-2017 season and Otsuka feels that could be the right move eventually.

“Our highest level of competition is the high school varsity league and that’s where we want to be,” says Otsuka.

Both the girls’ high school soccer and the high school hockey teams are budget neutral for the school district and paid for by the parents for the first couple of years but will eventually fall under the funding of the school district.

“The goal behind bringing hockey and girls soccer to school sports is wearing your school uniform and being a Titan,” says Kidd. “I think it improves the high school experience.”

Check Also

Junior Bike Week to hit the area June 26 – 30

A Downhill, Short Track race and the Omnium added this year [ by Than Acuff  …