Sheyenne High School looks to begin varsity programsWest Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The landscape of high school sports in the area is set to change next year when Sheyenne will begin varsity sports. It's been a painstaking process for those involved, filled with some pitfalls and lessons.
By: Dom Izzo, WDAY
West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The landscape of high school sports in the area is set to change next year when Sheyenne will begin varsity sports. It's been a painstaking process for those involved, filled with some pitfalls and lessons.
Ross Richards/Sheyenne Athletic Director: “I bill it as it's a great opportunity but it’s something that's not easy to do and it takes special people that accept the challenges that lie ahead to be the first and what you do about going your business these first couple of years is what's going to be going in 50 years at Sheyenne High School.”
Big words for a school that has big aspirations...Sheyenne High School is still putting the finishing touches on its gym and theater, they'll be ready in the fall when the Mustangs will take the field for the first time as a varsity program, but the questions linger.
Richards: Do we have enough to sustain a program, once we get it up and running? And we really have to pay close attention to the numbers we have out there, so you start a program and then don't have the numbers to sustain it years after that, we want to be very cognizant of that.
Sheyenne doesn't have to look far into the past to see if new programs will work, Fargo Davies opened its doors in 2011, but they began playing varsity sports a year earlier, knowing they wouldn't have a senior class.
Our district really did a good job selling the participation numbers and I believe the Davies community bought into that, knowing it's going to take some time, we'll have some bumpy roads but in the long run, it's going to be for the better.
There is one big difference between Davies and Sheyenne, and that's just the number of teams .The Eagles debuted with 11 varsity sports, including hockey and golf, the Mustangs will start with 7 next fall.
Lenny Olhauser/Davies Athletic Director: “Unprecedented growth in West Fargo is really a stumbling block for us. When you look at Fargo South and Davies had their feeder middle schools established kids knew where they were going to be 3-4 years down the road, we didn't have that in West Fargo, Liberty Middle school the feeder for Sheyenne just opened this year, having difficult time identifying exactly how many kids are participating in various sports.”
One sport that did get the go-ahead for Sheyenne this year was football. The Mustangs JV team, made up of sophomores and freshmen played a full schedule, including a game against Kindred's varsity team, and head coach Jeremy Newton knows full well the challenges in front of him.
Jeremy Newton/Sheyenne Head Coach: “We started from scratch, had to do that a couple times before had to do that with sophomores and freshmen, but I'm really happy with the progress we made as a program as a team.”
Richards: For people on the outside that don't understand the population dynamics, it's hard for people to understand some of the decisions we have to make but we are making decisions to create opportunities and can we sustain what we do over the long haul as being the guiding factors in our decision making.
Richards tells me approximately 1150 kids will attend Sheyenne next year, 750 will be Mustangs and about 400 West Fargo freshmen.