The right for community input is put to the testParents concerned over boards vote to move LSJAA football teams to WESCO BY CHUCK TUCK | JOURNAL REPORTER
The Lake Stevens Junior Athletic Association (LSJAA) football board members held their monthly meeting last Tuesday night April 8, with concerned parents and coaches as players and some of the cheerleaders (who also had a stake in this) waited outside a crowded classroom.
Also in attendance was Bradley Pierce, V.P. of the Greater Snohomish County Youth Football League (GSCYFL) who was there to make sure that no misconceptions were made of the GSCYFL and squash any rumors of the league’s problems.
In most cases, board meetings don’t bring out a huge number of attendees, but in this case there were about 50 parents who wanted to express their opinions over the fact that the LSJAA football board members had voted to move all the LSJAA football teams to a Western Conference Jr. Football League (WESCO).
Several emails were obtained by the Lake Stevens Journal. LSJAA President, Larry Jones stated the following in one of those emails.
“One of the reasons for the change is the dissatisfaction of the GSCYFL in which we used to play in. They had told our organization that they would be able to take senior teams this year that we had set up for them and then they bailed and said they would not,” the email read.
At the meeting on Tuesday, Jones and other board members said that their concern and reasoning for taking all the LSJAA football teams to WESCO was they did not want to split the league making more work for coaches, board members, and parents.
Board member Shelley Kerr added that she knows how kids can sometimes be, teasing other kids if they are playing in a lesser competitive league.
However, many parents disagreed, saying that moving the teams to WESCO would further alienate those kids who were either there for fun and just learning the basics of playing football and it was not right for them, who would no longer be able to play.
“This is about the kids,” shouted a parent from the crowd.
Currently the bylaws for GSCYFL and LSJAA football state a guarantee play rule where all kids will play at least one quarter of every game, whereas WESCO does not have such a rule.
According to Jones, he said that they (the board) can add to its bylaws the same play rule for WESCO.
Other fears and concerns include the fact that WESCO is more like a select team where recruiting from outside of the community was allowed which means there would be cuts for local players who were not good enough.
Another issue is that the funds, which are collected via the player dues for the LSJAA football teams, would go to help kids of other communities if the league goes to WESCO.
LSHS football coach Tom Tri was there to express his opinion on this topic and his understanding of concerned parents.
“My concern is that we are Lake Stevens kids… Why are we wasting time teaching fundamentals to Monroe kids?” he said.
Many other issues including the doubling of player dues were being tossed around by parents as the board members sat and listened.
One of the most pro-active voices heard that evening came from Brian Menard who would be the coach of the Rams. He voiced that it is a guarantee under current bylaws of LSJAA football where all returning players would get to play on the same team as the previous year with their friends. The decision to go to WESCO would eliminate that privilege.
“The decision cut deep,” Menard said.
Tara Aldrich wrote the following as a concerned parent and proud citizen of Lake Stevens.
“My son has played in Lake Stevens for five years now and I really can’t imagine having to tell him that he is not going to be able to represent his Lake Stevens football community any longer. Our family is hoping that it won’t come to this.”
As the meeting ran into overtime, too many issues were tossed onto the table.
In the end, a decision was made to have four representatives from each team be eligible to vote at a special meeting held yesterday to further discuss the communities concerns over league changes.
In fairness, an opportunity for Jones to respond directly to the Journal was offered, but as of this writing nothing has been received.