FREDONIA, N.Y. (WIVB)- Fredonia football players won’t have to hang up their cleats. The Board of Education voted six to one Tuesday night merge the program with the Westfield-Brocton team. Board President Michael Bobseine voted against the proposal.
“They really need to have that team, their football family, the friendships they’re building,” said Dee Crampton, a parent in the district.
She was one of more than 50 parents, coaches and players packed into the high school library to tell the Board of Education they want football to be an option.
“It’s like a family and it would be like losing a family member,” said Tim Wright, Fredonia’s offensive line coach. Wright has been a coach in the district for 10 years and his son plays on the JV team.
Fredonia only has about 22 players on its varsity team and the district was worried that wouldn’t be enough to safely field a team.
“The Section allows 16 but anyone who’s coached or played football knows that going into a season with 22 players, three of them being sophomores, is not a number you want to start the season with,” said Superintendent Paul DiFonzo.
DiFonzo proposed merging it with the Westfield-Brocton team, which will about double the number of kids both teams.
“We are impairing the brains of our children who play football,” said Board President Michael Bobseine.
Bobseine argued the risks of concussions are too great and football already costs Fredonia too much money. He said the district spends about $1,112 per football player.
The Board voted to move forward with the merger.
Superintendent DiFonzo told News 4 they’re now waiting for a final word from Brocton. He said Westfield has already voted yes to the merger.
DiFonzo told News 4 they expect combining programs will save the district money.
“I believe it’s going to be, at worst, a break-even proposition,” said DiFonzo. “There may be savings but the bottom line is each district has budgeted an amount for football and this program would stay within those cost limits.”
Over the next three months the athletic directors from each school will meet and decide where games and practices will be held. They’ll also look at how the athletes will be transported.
The plan they come up with will go back before the board of education in each district for approval.
Board President Bobseine said his focus will now be on keeping the athletes safe.
“For all of our sports, I think we should have a one and done concussion rule,” said Bobseine. “The other thing, ideally we should have a trainer for all of our football practices and games.’
Board members and Superintendent DiFonzo told News 4 they hope this is the first step in possibly merging school districts as well.