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Board votes down cooperative M'boro-Inter-Lakes football team

June 03, 2009
MOULTONBORO — An effort to join Moultonboro players with Inter-Lakes to form a cooperative team was voted down by the Moultonboro School Board last month, citing economic difficulties and the school's small size.

"The Moultonboro School Board decided to not go forward with the program," said Board Chair Bill Blackadar. "It was a tough decision, and very emotional. There were a lot of kids there (at the meeting) to support it."

Interest in starting a cooperative football team with Inter-Lakes started a little over a year ago, according to Moultonboro Athletic Director Harry Blood. Blood said that a group of interested parents and citizens formed the Friends for Moultonboro Football booster club and worked on petitions and plans to join Moultonboro students with Inter-Lakes' football team.

The Inter-Lakes football team attained varsity status last year, after several years of play. Blood said there was an opportunity for the schools to join in a cooperative football team when Inter-Lakes began forming its own some years ago, but that the school decided not to "because no one in the community played it." Moultonboro and Inter-Lakes have one cooperative sports team, the MAILERS hockey team, founded several years ago.

Moultonboro Academy has never had a football team, according to Blackadar.

Blood and Scott Blundo, a local parent who wanted to see the program come about, spearheaded the effort in the school and community. Blundo said that his petition for the program had received over 300 signatures in the community. A survey of high school and middle school children showed interest as well, he said.

"My firm belief is that if a program can be offered, even though it's a small town, it should be offered," said Blundo. "Moultonboro does not have a program for the six-foot, 200-pound kid whose development would be stimulated if in this team."

Blood and Blundo worked with the Moultonboro and Inter-Lakes School Districts to see if there was interest in joining the two schools to play football. They also worked with the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association to see if approval could be gained from that quarter.

"The Inter-Lakes School Board was receptive because it would be building upon that positive relationship with Moultonboro," said Inter-Lakes Superintendent Phil McCormack. "We were proceeding as though it was going to happen. It's entirely their (Moultonboro's) call."

The Friends worked to present their idea to the school board, introducing it in April, so that a decision could be made in May. After considerable discussion, however, the board voted down the proposal.

"I was thoroughly shocked that it was not accepted by the school board," said Blundo "My honest belief is that this program came about quickly, more so than (the hockey program). We were given a lot of reasons, like the economic environment. I offered to fund it through the booster program."

Blackadar said that several factors weighed into the board's decision to vote down the proposal. The economy plays into it, he said, as the budget was put through intense scrutiny in the last year. Blood reported that the estimated cost for Moultonboro to become involved in a cooperative football program would total around $24,000.

"The economy is part of it," said Blackadar. "The principle is that times are tougher, and we need to reel things in. We decided against new proposals or initiatives."

Blackadar also said that Moultonboro's size, and participation in other athletic programs affected the board's decision. Moultonboro Academy has an active athletics program, he said, and the board was afraid to draw students away from the other sports by adding football. There was also concern that there might not be enough interested students to keep the program going in the future, as enrollment declines.

Blood said that although the boosters were hoping to fund the program, as Inter-Lakes' boosters do, he understood the decision the board made.

"There was some nervousness in these economic times, and about the size of the school," said Blood. "A lot of Lakes Region schools are declining in terms of their enrollment, and the school had to cut back in places. If we're cutting back academically, why would we add athletically?"

Blackadar, Blood, and Blundo all remained hopeful that the program could be brought up again in the future, and potentially approved. Blood said that he believed the program could still be on the table, but that it would need involvement from boosters and from students.

"If this had been two years ago," Blood said, "it might have been a different story.

Blundo said that he hoped those residents who had signed the petition would continue to support the program and voice that support to the board and to the community. He asked that anyone interested in this or in the Friends for Moultonboro Football call him at 253-1009.

Blackadar, speaking for himself, remained optimistic about the future of football in Moultonboro.

"Never say never," said Blackadar. "We're still hearing some comments. Some younger kids will continue to want it, but it will take a real groundswell of support from parents and the community in general."

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