The effects of Liberty High on West High sports

The opening of Liberty High comes with vast changes to West High sports. The West Side Story investigated the consequences, both negative and positive, of the school scheduled to open in 2017.


Jiung Jung and Gabby Skopec

The opening of Liberty High will serve a plethora of purposes in the future for the ICCSD, mainly recognized as a tool to decrease West High’s substantial student body. However, West High has already felt the effects, both positive and negative, of Liberty High’s opening in one aspect — sports. The freshman football and volleyball teams have already made a seperate Liberty High team, raising concerns in the levels of participation.

“West has always had two freshman teams, but I foresee that we will probably only have one freshman team,” said girls volleyball coach Randy Dolson. “We don’t have as many girls trying out for the sophomore team, so the squads will be smaller in the next few years. I think the numbers will be challenge moving forward.”

The concern has been raised on the soccer field as well.

“You are going to lose numbers; you are just simply going to lose the quantity of players to choose from, which in turn usually dilutes the quality of the players,” said girls soccer coach David Rosenthal. “I suppose I would be lying if I said ‘no I’m not worried about it.’”

In theory, the drop in sports’ participation should roughly be equivalent in both City and West High. However, there are some worries about how fairly this will be executed — as of now, City High does not have any Liberty sports teams.

“Granted, we are on the West side of town and the North Liberty kids go to west, but if the district holds true to their word this new high school should impact both current high schools equally, and if it doesn’t, well, that’s not fair,” said head football coach Garrett Hartwig. “If [the ratio of students leaving West and City to Liberty] is 60% to 40% I’m fine, but if it’s 90% to 10% or 80% to 20%, I don’t think the district can call it a fair opening. As long as things are done fairly I’ll never say a word.”

A silver lining may exist for some programs, as opportunity for other kids to shine may present itself, due to a rise in the number of programs for sports, while the number of kids stays relatively the same.

“Maybe we can get some kids that have said ‘I’m not even going to bother going out for soccer because all these kids that play club soccer year round are going to get those varsity spots,’ which isn’t always the case. Now there might be some kids out there who say ‘Hey, we need to field a team, I’m interested in playing’ I think that’s encouraging, I think that’s neat.” Rosenthal said.

And while this may be true for some teams, other programs have less concern to begin with about the possibility of a change in numbers,

“No, I don’t think it will make any difference really… It’s all the same to me whether we have 1000 kids or 10 kids, I started with 17 kids my first year in 2005 and we’ve grown the program, and it will be fine.” said boys cross country coach Brian Martz.

In a world of uncertainty about what the sporting world in the community will look like in the coming years, one thing is for sure: the West program’s goals will stay the same.

“The pressure for winning is there no matter what. I want to win, at the varsity level we always try to provide a great opportunity to play football and at the end of the day we want to win. We’ll do what we need to do to do that.” Hartwig said.

Rosenthal echoed these comments,

“I’ll approach next year just like approached last year, just like I did the year before. You can look at your team and say ‘What’s our goal for the team’ and for me, every single year starts with the goal of winning state no matter what our talent level is that’s what we shoot for, that’s our expectation.”

At the end of the day, sports are a very small concern when looking at the bigger picture.
“We need a new high school in this district, it’s well overdue. This school is too crowded.” Martz said.

Featured image by Leah Dusterhoft.