If girls swimming continues as a varsity sport at Tomah High School, it won’t have the help of Sparta.
Tomah Area School District activities director Tom Curran told the Tomah School Board Monday that Sparta High School is dropping its participation in the co-op arrangement after two seasons.
Curran said low numbers drove Sparta’s decision. The 2018 season ended with three girls from Tomah and three girls from Sparta, and only four of the six competed at the Wisconsin Rapids Sectional, the team’s final meet of the season.
“It doesn’t look like in any shape or form we will have a co-op with Sparta next season,” Curran said.
He said Tomah has the option of continuing alone, but it would proceed with very small numbers.
“At most, we would have four girls next year,” Curran said. “Numbers really drive the steps we can take ... I wish the numbers were higher.”
The team practices at Fort McCoy’s Rumpel Fitness Center, and school district superintendent Cindy Zahrte said there have been issues with transporting students to practice. She said there were instances where Curran drove students to Fort McCoy.
Julia Koput, who helps coach the Total Force swim team that practices at Rumpel, said there were “major issues” with the coaches during the first two seasons. She said there are “fully trained” coaches willing to step in and build the program. The Total Force team competes during the winter and has been forced to cap participation at 50 swimmers ages eight to 17.
“I just think if the word got out who would be coaching, we would make it work,” Koput said.
Zahrte said Sparta is the lead school in the co-op and has been responsible for hiring coaches.
Curran said he’s disappointed that the co-op didn’t work.
“This is a unique situation for me,” he said. “Usually I’m coming to you asking for something.”
The board will likely make a decision on the program during a special meeting Feb. 4 or during its regular monthly meeting Feb. 18.