November 30, 2010
Dryden debates color of sports team uniforms
Photo provided by Renee Marquis Photography
Dryden High School varsity football team wears black jerseys along with purple pants and numbers in a game earlier this fall.
DRYDEN — Residents urged the Board of Education Monday to provide more modified sports coaches and to require athletic teams to wear the traditional school colors.
Four teams — football, wrestling, volleyball and swimming, plus the cheerleaders — wear black uniforms with purple and white trim. Some teams have bought black team jackets, using money they raised.
Alumni have begun a campaign, starting with a Facebook page, to make sure the traditional purple and white remain the dominant colors. The black uniforms were the idea of coaches and athletes, approved by Athletic Director Ralph Boettger.
Six people — all alumni, some parents of athletes — told the board that purple and white are a way to easily identify their teams and are not subject to fashion.
Two of them agreed with board member Bill Harding, who said coaches and athletes should not choose uniform colors.
Earlier, Boettger told the board that black has grown popular in the sports world the past decade as a symbol of power.
He said swimmers wear black because he cannot find Speedos in purple, and wrestlers wear black because lighter colors are too revealing. He said he avoids white because it is difficult to clean.
Boettger showed the board uniforms from different teams and earlier decades, some with yellow trim. He said it is difficult to find purple in consistent shades, especially with different fabrics.
Boettger said he supported purchasing black uniforms and regretted only that the football jerseys had purple numbers with white trim, hard to see during night games.
“If you need color to be powerful, you don’t believe in yourself,” said board member Karin LaMotte. “People believe in purple and white. What we wear is pretty great, so I hated to see the black. I don’t mind shorts being black but the jersey represents the school.”
Renee Marquis, a 1977 graduate who started the Facebook page, said black does not represent the school and she does not want it to become a trend.
She said she buys Dryden shirts at stores, not from the booster club, because the boosters sell mostly black clothing.
Westbrook Shortell, a 1999 graduate, said black is absence of color, not a color, and coaches should be spending more time on teaching their sports, not on uniform colors.
Board President Perry Dewey said the board would listen to comments and consider them in its discussions, but not respond.
It was unclear how the board would follow up on the discussion.
Six other people — four parents, a coach and an athlete — spoke about a recent change in winter modified sports that left one person coaching both seventh- and eighth-grade teams in boys’ basketball. The problem surfaced before Thanksgiving break, when the teachers’ union grievance committee chair told Superintendent of Schools Sandy Sherwood that one person could not coach two teams. One person was essentially doing two jobs, the union said.
Sherwood said the district needs to find a volunteer to coach one boys’ basketball team. The modified volleyball coaches agreed that one would be paid and the other would be a volunteer for their two teams.
“The next board meeting comes right as the season ends,” she said, “so I may need to act.”
The situation arose because the district budget trimmed modified winter sports coaches from six to three. Sherwood said the change should have been implemented better.
Boettger said school sports, like any part of the district, must find creative solutions to letting as many students as possible take part, as state aid continues to be cut.
Parents at the meeting were angry with the solution Boettger chose for Dryden modified boys’ basketball games: one game, with seventh-graders playing the first half and eighth-graders the second half.
“That’s like a football team playing three-quarters of a game and stopping,” said Anthony Hall, father of a basketball player, saying the players were upset. He said his son values whatever playing time he gets, and in one half of a game, he will not get much.
Lisa Zehr, mother of a volleyball player, asked the board to fix whatever mistake was made. Hall and Zehr said the modified athletes take their sports as seriously as if they were varsity.
Modified sports are viewed as a time for athletes to learn a sport and get comfortable with their abilities, Boettger and Sherwood said. They have shorter seasons than junior varsity and varsity, and do not have sectional or state championships.
“Something went wrong and I would like to know where,” said Kelly Daley, another volleyball player’s mother. She urged the board to remember that students were being hurt by the situation.
Sherwood said girls’ basketball would have a combined team of the two grades, when its season begins in January. Boettger said opponent schools would have the same setup.
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