KEARNEY – Kearney Public Schools is adding additional sports teams to their high schools.
Boys’ and girls’ soccer and seventh grade track will be a reality at Horizon and Sunrise High Schools in the 2022-2023 school year. The seventh and eighth grade students will participate in the same football and athletics team.
“Our students and parents are showing great interest in expanding extra-curricular activities in our high schools. Strong evidence has been provided to support the introduction of football and the expansion of trails for our high school athletes,” said Jason Mandorf, Superintendent of KPS. “We are excited that the board wanted to offer these additional opportunities to our middle school students, and we are equally excited about the impact these opportunities will have on student participation in the classroom and their school experience.”
In the survey, 185 Horizon students and 204 Sunrise students said they were interested in playing football. Each boys’ and girls’ high school football team will be allowed 40 players.
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Ryan Hogue, KHS Associate Principal/Director of Activities, said he believes students who have not had the opportunity to participate in athletics will benefit from participating in a sport that emphasizes the principles of good health and fitness.
“Participation in sports and activities at all levels gives students the opportunity to become part of a team and learn positive character traits such as a sense of purpose, responsibility and a strong work ethic,” said Hogue. “The High School Sports Access Policy has proven to be a motivational tool for our student athletes, offering them a better chance of success not only on the playground, but also in the classroom. This is an exciting addition for our Sunrise and Horizon High School students and for the future of our Bearcat football and track programs.”
The addition of football and the addition of a seventh grade to the track is a financial obligation for the county. Coaches, uniforms, football equipment, game organizers, and transportation will cost approximately $34,000 the first year and $24,000 a year after.
“The benefits of playing football and athletics in seventh grade will show up in the success of our high school teams,” said Scott Krause, Sunrise’s event manager. “The sooner we can get students on the field, the better athletes they will become.”
According to Stacey Bean, Horizon High School’s director of operations, each high school will have four coaches: one head coach and one assistant coach for boys’ football and girls’ football. Coaches have not yet been identified.
“We are confident that our coaches will instill a strong work ethic both on and off the field,” Bean said.
High school football teams Horizon and Sunrise plan to schedule competitions against Grand Island and Lexington.
Students will learn more about participating in football and athletics in the seventh and eighth grades in the 2022-2023 school year.