omewhere between Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania, en route to my home state of New York for the Fourth of July, I got a text message from a colleague.
“No Trinity Lutheran football in the fall.”
Jackson County went from three football teams to two.
Now, like it was for many years, it’s back to Seymour and Brownstown Central.
It’s never easy to halt a program, especially one in the beginning stages of development with a bright future.
Looking at the Cougars’ roster heading into the 2015 season, they theoretically would have fielded 21 returning players.
However, about six kids moved or left the program for various reasons, leaving 15 players.
Information was passed on that three incoming freshman were planning on joining the team.
But it could be a minor setback for the squad that played its first full varsity season in 2012 (in 2011 they played a shortened season).
Cougars athletics director Aaron Rudzinski said there are 20 seventh-graders playing football at Immanuel Lutheran in Seymour, so they will see what the numbers at Trinity are in two years.
If everything pans out, assuming coaching positions are filled and the numbers in athletes improves to a satisfactory level, the Cougars will be back in 2017.
In the meantime, the school is left in an awkward position.
What happens to the kids who are two to three years deep into playing football? Do they stay for the education or leave to pursue football?
Is college football, and its scholarship opportunities, now out of the question for the incoming upperclassmen?
Will students, in their sophomore and junior years playing football at public schools, want to transfer to Trinity for football?
This past year the Cougars had three players commit to join the college ranks, so there is an interest in continuing the sport after high school. The year before yielded the same number of college commits.
Current Cougars now can play for Southside Home School’s football team in Indianapolis — a team that’s not sanctioned by the IHSAA and can’t play in a sectional.
It’s a tough feat for both parents and kids from the county, as they would have to drive nearly an hour just for practices every day.
Some will make the journey, perhaps, in hopes that the squad will be back at Trinity in their junior and senior years.
Perhaps the boys soccer or cross-country teams at Trinity will grow in numbers now. But will those kids play football after putting in a couple of years in another sport?
Everyone involved must be, in a loose term, frustrated.
This past March, the school board approved a move to build a six-figure permanent lights fixture for the field: The lights are currently next to the field ready to be installed.
Those lights will not shine on Friday nights for varsity football.
There’s still the alternative of having students transfer to Brownstown or Seymour.
If Trinity reinstates a football program in two years, they will have to endure some growing pains all over again.
New coaches, players and systems don’t all come together overnight.
It’s a process.