Lake Placid school board renews athletic mergers, considers flag football team

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education on Tuesday approved a slew of athletic mergers for the spring season, heard a presentation about flag football and continued to field letters about public-private athletic mergers.

The board voted unanimously to approve spring sports mergers with Keene Central School District and Saranac Lake Central School District. Varsity and modified baseball, softball and track and field mergers with KCSD were approved, as well as varsity and modified lacrosse and boys and girls tennis mergers with SLCSD. The same mergers were approved last year.

The board also heard a proposal for a new spring sport: girls flag football. SLCSD created a girls varsity flag football team last spring. The Keene Central School District, whose athletic director spurred the creation of many teams at Section VII schools, also has a team.

LPCSD athletic director Jeff Nemec said there is “good student interest and enthusiasm” for a flag football team. Sixteen girls have expressed interest in the team, six of whom would be exclusively flag athletes. The other 10 would be dual athletes participating in other spring sports in addition to flag football. Nemec said Lake Placid Middle/High School technology education teacher Brian LaVallee also expressed an interest in coaching the team.

Nemec said the district’s decision to start a flag football program would be forward-thinking — men’s and women’s flag football has been added to the list of events for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

“It’s an up-and-coming opportunity for female athletes,” he said. “I think it’s important we stay on the forefront of things students could be interested in. And you never know, down the road, the growth of the sport.”

LPCSD would field its own team this spring, not relying on a merger to hit an adequate number of players. With 16 students interested, LPCSD already has more than twice the minimum amount of players needed to field a team, which is seven.

Other local flag football teams have done a good job gathering players and crowds so far, Nemec said.

“I watched the first game in Keene, I was really impressed by the fast pace and the enthusiasm around it,” he said.

He added that the cost to the district would not be significant — they would not need to pay for ice time like they do for hockey. He also emphasized the importance of “maintaining other traditional sports” in the spring season such as track and field and softball, which is why LPCSD would allow athletes to participate in two sports this spring.

“Logistically I’m capable of managing this and spearheading the dual athlete involvement,” Nemec said. “I think it’s important we’re staying ahead of it.”

If approved by the school board, girls flag football would be added to the 2024 spring sports lineup for LPCSD.

The school board also received more letters concerning a potential sports merger with Northwood School. At the board’s last meeting, letters and comments came from Northwood and LPCSD parents. On Tuesday, the two letters came from LPCSD track and field athletes Jesse Marshall and Ethan Cash. Cash is the son of school board president Dan Cash.

“Once we heard the news that Northwood might join us for track, all the players were up in arms. We do not want them to join our team,” Marshall wrote. “We have sufficient numbers as it is, and if Northwood joins us, many of the public school students would be outcompeted by the athleticism of Northwood. If you let Northwood join the Lake Placid track team, the team would be better but Lake Placid students wouldn’t be on it.”

Ethan Cash echoed Marshall’s sentiments.

“I think it would be unfair for Northwood’s kids to have one foot in Northwood athletics and one foot in Lake Placid athletics,” Ethan Cash wrote. “The merger with Keene is great because we are both public schools. However, Northwood is a private school with no relation to public school systems. The athletic association we compete in is called the New York State Public High School Athletics Association, emphasis on ‘public high school.'”

Board president Dan Cash said on Tuesday that the board was in the process of preparing a response to the merger debate.

The district was approached by parents at Northwood School, a Lake Placid-based private school, last month with an informal proposal for an athletic merger that would allow day students whose families live in Lake Placid to participate in LPCSD sports. The district declined.

The matter did not come before the school board for a vote but was instead decided by the athletic department; the school board approves athletic mergers as they’re recommended by the athletic department, such as the other spring sports mergers approved at Tuesday’s meeting.

At the board’s last meeting on Feb. 6, representatives of Northwood School and LPCSD parents turned out to speak in favor of a potential merger.


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