Deal with neighbor to bring soccer back to OHS

Northern Ozaukee, Random Lake boards agree to co-op program that will help both districts deal with small numbers

AN OZAUKEE High player dribbled past two Cedar Grove-Belgium players in 2021, which was the last time Ozaukee High fielded a boys’ soccer team. Press file photo

Ozaukee Press staff

There will again be a boys’ soccer team at Ozaukee High School next year — albeit a co-op team with Random Lake High School.

The Northern Ozaukee School Board last week approved the joint team, and the Random Lake School Board did the same on Monday, Jan. 23.

Jeff Ternes, president of the Random Lake Soccer Club, urged the Random School Board to approve the measure,  saying, “I think it’s time. With low enrollment, every year it’s getting tougher, no matter the sport.”

While considering the co-op team on Jan. 16, Ozaukee School Board member Suzanne Miller said, “I wish we had been able to do this for this year.”

A lack of participation is the reason for the co-op team.

Ozaukee Athletic Director Andy McKee said that the team has played with 12 members on the roster for the last two to three years, a situation he said was “nearly impossible.”

“This has been a long time coming,” he said. “I’d love to have 25% to 50% more players in every sport.

“It’s very difficult to play soccer with those numbers. We’d love to have 20-plus members.”

This year, he said, the school canceled the season when only seven boys turned out for the team. It was the first time in decades they faced that decision, McKee said.

“We’re just seeing an overall decline (in participation),” he said, and not just in soccer. In football, only about 25 players have turned out during the last couple years.

In part, McKee said, it’s because class sizes are lower than they were six or seven years ago. Students also have other interests, he said, adding, “A lot of our kids really like to work.”

He opened talks about a co-op soccer team with the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District last year, McKee said, but they declined for a number of reasons.

So he began talking to Random Lake officials, McKee said, noting that the two districts are a “better geographical choice.”

Random Lake had 14 or 15 boys turn out for the soccer team this year, but more than half of those students are seniors.

“They’re kind of in our same boat, but about a year behind us,” he said.

The new team, the Random Lake-Ozaukee Co-Op team, will be hosted by Random Lake, McKee said, and games and practices will be held on the Rams’ field.

“In order to find  a partner, we are willing to be the team that travels,” he said.

Players will be responsible for getting to Random Lake on their own, but McKee said that shouldn’t be an issue because the older students who can drive generally transport their younger teammates.

“In all sports, the older kids here take care of the younger kids,” he said. “It’s kind of a nice tradition here, especially considering how small we are.”

Both Random Lake and Ozaukee will provide their head coaches for the team, he said.

The schools need to apply to the WIAA by Feb. 1 for approval, McKee said, adding that the agreement will run for two years.

And the Big East Conference, he added,  “is very accepting of it.”

The goal for both school districts, McKee said, is to offer more opportunities for students to participate in sports and perhaps build their numbers back up over time to the point they can again have their own teams.

Increasing the number of students on the team is important for several reasons, McKee said. It gives players more opportunities to take breaks during games and for younger players to develop over the years, and it will help increase the safety of the sport as well.

There’s a huge difference in the physical development of younger and older players, he said, and when younger players go up against the older, stronger ones the chance of injury increases.

Ideally, McKee said, there will be enough players who go out for the co-op team that the team will be able to play three or four junior varsity games, giving those younger players a better opportunity to develop.

And, he added, a co-op team will have a chance to be more competitive, which in turn could help draw more students to the sport.

McKee noted that Ozaukee is talking to Random Lake about a co-op golf team as well, but said, “It’s nowhere near official.”




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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