By Danielle Nadler
The Loudoun County School Board voted Tuesday to give indoor track the needed nod to compete in the Virginia High School League, although the endorsement doesn’t come with much cash.
The vote identifies indoor track as a “tier 2” activity, which means the program receives required school division backing to take part in competitions sanctioned by VHSL, which governs interscholastic activities in Virginia’s public high schools. But the “tier 2” designation leaves it up to a parent organization to fund the program.
Student athletes will pay a $150 activity fee, just as they do to participate in any other school division sport, and those funds will be given back to the parent organization overseeing the league to cover costs. The division would cover fees for students who cannot afford it, which is estimated to cost about $2,000 per school.
The board suspended meeting rules to vote on the proposal Tuesday, instead of at its Dec. 1 meeting.
School Board member Jennifer K. Bergel (Catoctin) urged the board to make a decision fast so that students have a chance to compete in this winter season of indoor track.
The season begins with meets early next month and ends with a state competition in late February.
Just one school, Loudoun Valley High School, submitted an application for the board to consider backing indoor track as a varsity sport. Bergel noted that it’s no coincidence that the Purcellville high school is home to one of the country’s top-rated runners, senior Andrew Hunter.
Having an outlet to train and compete during the cross-country and track off seasons will help runners in Loudoun compete with athletes in the neighboring jurisdictions that have indoor programs, Bergel said.
“There is a huge opportunity here and I would like to see what they can do,” she added.
Les Cummings, the division’s supervisor of athletics, told the board that coaches and students at seven other high schools have shown an interest in indoor track. The board’s decision allows any public high school in Loudoun to form a varsity indoor track team. But initially, Cummings focus will be on finalizing the needed paperwork to set just Loudoun Valley up for this winter season.
“We’re going to try hard to try to get it done, but I can’t guarantee it,” he said.
Indoor track is the third sport the School Board has welcomed as a school division activity in the past six months. It added girls field hockey to its athletic offerings in May and crew in June, following a policy change that allows the division to back a sport for VHSL play without coming up with the money to pay for it.
School Board member Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) was the one board member present who opposed the proposal. She said she’d prefer more time to vet the idea, as the board did with field hockey and crew.
Contact Danielle Nadler at firstname.lastname@example.org.