NEDERLAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Football is typically a popular sport at high schools across Colorado, but that’s not the case in the small mountain town of Nederland.
Nederland Middle/Senior High School has struggled to get enough athletes on the gridiron this year. Now the entire sport may be cut.
“It’s like my life, ya know?” Nederland High junior and football captain Damon Vigil said.
Vigil, 17, loves playing all kinds of sports, especially football.
“I really take it to heart,” he told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “I love the game.”
Vigil said he grew up playing football just like his dad did. When he learned his school may not offer football next year he was disappointed.
“I felt really saddened,” Vigil said. “Next year is my senior year, so I don’t just want to play three years and say bye to it.”
A total of 117 students are enrolled at Nederland High this year. It’s a small school with seemingly little interest in football.
“It really came to a head this year because we had to forfeit games,” Rick Elertson, Athletic Director and Assistant Principal, said. “We couldn’t field an 8-man football team twice.”
Elertson explained lack of interest is one part of the issue, the other is youth development. Nederland does not have any community programs for football, so young athletes don’t really have a chance to play the sport until they get to high school.
“This is a program problem,” Elertson told Werthmann. “The youth development programs that are available for soccer are driving the change.”
After months of discussing the problem, a 28-person community committee — comprised of teachers, coaches, members of the community and a board member — recommended Nederland Middle/Senior High School drop football in favor of soccer. Elertson said students were polled on what sports they’d like to have at the school. 71 percent said soccer, followed by ultimate frisbee, then football.
“If we could offer all the sports we would,” he said.
Taylor Hoffman, junior and co-captain of the football team, attended a community meeting at the school Wednesday night. He learned more about the CHSAA rules that would allow him to still play football while still attending Nederland High.
“We’d be bussed to Boulder High,” he said, adding it would be worth the drive.
“It’s football. I’d do anything for football. If I have to go halfway across the country I’ll do it.”
Hoffman’s teammate echoed that sentiment, expressing he only wants what is best for the school.
“I love this school and all its sports,” Vigil said. “If it means cancelling football and bringing a more successful sport in like soccer to give the school more potential, so be it.”
A decision on what to do about the football program won’t be made for another week.
Beth Buglione, the football coach, was not at the Wednesday night meeting but she shared the following comment with CBS4 via email:
“I’m disappointed they are considering eliminating Football but trust the administration to know what is best for the kids.”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.