by Darren Doyle, Editor
As a former high school athlete, (a long, long, long, time ago...) I find myself telling my kids and young players something that always seems to start like this, "Well, back when I played..."
Yeah, I said I'd never be that guy, but it just happened, I guess. One thing we could always count on is that there was a pep bus loaded with crazy, loud-mouthed students ready to scream bloody murder for their beloved Wildcats, whether they knew one thing about the sport they were cheering on or not.
As I made the hour-and-a-half drive to Trinity last night, I was hoping that Edmonson County fans would make a showing, make the trek, and support the Lady Cat volleyball team in the District Final. I'll say that again...THE DISTRICT FINAL. Turns out that it was quite the opposite.
Ok, this wasn't a scrimmage game against a no-name team. This was something that the volleyball program has been working towards for years. And guess how many fans showed up to the game besides the parents? About four. Yes, you read that right...not 40, not 400...four.
Where was the pep bus? Why didn't the school see that fans had an opportunity to travel to the game? If you think high school kids are going to drive 1.5 hrs to the middle of nowhere using Siri or a GPS to find their way, your sadly mistaken. If it's not on SnapChat or Instagram, kids barely know what it is...
Yes, I know it costs money to take a bus anywhere, and the policy schools have on these kind of things can sometimes seem ridiculous. Yes, I know there are budget issues, and Edmonson County Schools can't write blank checks out to every open hand, but you have to do something.
"Well, back when I played," I remember kids paying $2 or $3 each to cover pep bus costs, and you couldn't have crammed another person on there. Yes, I know volleyball doesn't draw the crowds that football or basketball does, and that's just part of it, but shame on Edmonson County Schools for not making more of an effort to support these girls and this team any more than what they did.
What's that? Why don't I do something? Well, tell me how much the school has to pay for one pep bus ride and I might just write you a dang check.
If the average capacity for high school kids on a standard school bus is about 50, and each kid pays $3, simple math says that's about $150. Surely to heaven there'd be 50 kids that would want to ride a pep bus to a big game. I'd also bet booster clubs or other parents/volunteers would be willing to kick in too if $150 isn't enough. You might even find a volunteer driver.
Granted, I haven't spoken to any school officials about this, and I usually do all my homework before standing on a soapbox. If ECHS has done all they can do about this matter, then it's time to do more. These players deserve more support than that. Of course, I understand it wouldn't be feasible to take a pep bus to every away game in every sport, as no doubt that would take an enormous outpouring of support, but bigger games, rivalries, and tournaments should demand it.
Some might argue, "Even if we offered a pep bus, not enough students would ride it." I find that hard to believe, but if so, someone needs to do a better job of motivating students to support school programs. Was there a pep rally this week? Why not? This was a District Final wasn't it?
I've tried to think of every logical reason that ECHS wouldn't or couldn't do more to get students involved at events, especially the District 12 Championship game, and I'm coming up with a blank.
It seems like opposing teams always have a ton of supporters when they travel to ECHS, and maybe Edmonson County folks just don't get into sports as much as other places. If so, it is what it is. If the students don't care, they just don't care, but if that's the case, ECHS staff, faculty, and administration need to try to find ways to improve that.
Let me also say that our news organization has had nothing but positive dealings and a great relationship with Edmonson County Schools. I personally know almost all the administration and decision makers in the school district. What I've found is that these are great folks who care about our young people and are in it for the right reason. In this case, on behalf of all student athletes and their families, I'm asking you to care a little bit more.
Hats off to the couple of students who were dressed in EC gear shouting through a megaphone at the top of your lungs. I heard you, and others did, too. Now it's time for ECHS to do a better job in providing opportunities for other students to be heard as well.