Spotlight On Sports: Running For a Change - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Spotlight On Sports: Running For a Change

Wednesday, February 6th

MONTPELIER, VT --- Liam McSweeney and Chris Keller are buddies and they're also both freshman at Montpelier high school.

They've run into a problem. One they're eager to fix.

"Seeing everyone else be on a team, being able to participate in that aspect of the sport motivated us to try and get this done and change the rule.", says Keller.

The policy they would like to change is called member to member. It's a voluntary program that allows kids whose school does not have the sport they're interested in to participate at a nearby school that does have the sport.

But under current policy cross-country is considered an individual sport, not a team sport and does not fall under the guidelines of member to member. Montpelier high school does not have a team so McSweeney and Keller trained with U-32, ran in their races, but their scores did not count toward team totals.

"Chris and Liam are really clear that as much as they might receive individual awards the opportunity to be part of a state championship team or working to become a state championship team, that's what they are really missing out on.", says Montpelier High principle Pete Evans.

With support from their local school board McSweeney and Keller presented a resolution to the Vermont Principals Association's activities standards committee asking that cross-country be made a team sport.

"Even though the request seems pretty simple, to allow them to run with this team, there are actually a lot more issues with it then you see on the surface." says VPA Committee Administrator Bob Johnson.

One main issue that concerns the VPA is displacement but the kids say that shouldn't apply here.

"We believe that in sports with a individual component like cross-country and track and field that this is a non-issue because no matter what there's a race for everyone.", says Keller. "No one gets benched."

The committee decided to postpone a decision until their March 12th meeting.

"I've sent out an email to all athletic directors in the state and I've outlined the request that came in, I've outlined the member to member program and then I'm basically asking them for their opinions.", says Johnson.

Even if the policy is revised there is no guarantee that U-32 will accept these kids into their program. Up until now U-32 has not participated in any member to member activity but they say they are willing to consider it for cross country.

"It really hasn't been a huge issue. In a couple of sports it has and we've talked about it and we've decided as a community that we're not there yet but like we've told everybody we're always willing to look at it and what it means for us.", says U-32 athletic director Amy Molina.

No matter what the outcome is on March 12th, McSweeney and Keller say the process has been a positive learning experience.

"We've learned how to put our minds to things and just go through the process and try to get things done and do what you believe in and achieve something that might otherwise not be possible."

--- Shawna Lidsky

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