The Dunkirk school district’s new athletic director had positive news about participation last week.
When Andrew Burnside reported to the Board of Education Aug. 9, he said fall sports registration numbers were down significantly from the same time in 2022.
However, over the following two weeks, concerns eased with a slew of sign-ups. A new social media recruitment campaign by the district likely contributed to the surge.
Reporting to the board last week, Burnside showed a table indicating there were 266 students in fall sports, up eight from 2022.
The girls volleyball program, which includes varsity, junior varsity and modified squads, got a solid boost in registrations. There are 13 more students doing volleyball than last year, though the varsity team is down by four.
The girls’ varsity soccer team went from 12 to 18 signups and the boys’ squad saw 24 registrations, up one from 2022. However, the boys modified team had six fewer registrations this year and girls modified had one less.
The overall registration increase was also partially driven by the addition of girls swimming this year. Six students signed up for that.
Football numbers are down, with 13 fewer students going out for the JV team at the time of Burnside’s presentation than in 2022. Just 29 kids signed up this year. There was one fewer varsity sign-up, for a total of 31.
“Though our registration is up from last year, I’m more proud to announce that approximately 96% of the kids who signed up for a sport have showed up for the first few days of practice,” Burnside said.
He said about 200 people attended a parents’ meeting on Aug. 16 where the new athletics policy was discussed. “Based on the commentary and the feedback I’ve received, we do have the support of our community to hold our student athletes accountable for their academics, their attendance and their behavior.”
Burnside said the district is also reviewing its policies about spectators at athletic events.
“We are critiquing the current spectator policy to ensure that anything that we have is consistently enforceable, and cognizant that any athlete, coach or spectators must adhere to the policy,” he said. “A growing issue within athletics across the nation is vaping, and how districts are handling these situations. It’s something we’re trying to take care of as consistently as possible this year.”