After working together for months to support the athletic programs in both districts, Tamarac High School and Hoosick Falls High School received approval from NYSPHSAA Section 2 to merge five sports over the next nine months. Three of the sports will begin this spring; boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and outdoor track, while cross country and football will come together in the fall.
The number of athletic programs merging across New York State is increasing annually due to a decline in the number of athletes and/or the availability of new programs. The merger between Tamarac and Hoosick Falls is based on both declining participation and increased opportunity. Two of the sports will be a full merger of existing programs while the other three will absorb athletes from the other school. Even with the added number of players in each sport, the classification for all programs will remain the same.
Girls lacrosse, boys lacrosse and outdoor track do not exist as school-wide programs in one of districts. Tamarac does not have a girls lacrosse program and Hoosick Falls does not have an outdoor track program. Students interested in these sports will participate on the teams in the home district. Boys lacrosse will be a combination of both schools, Hoosick Falls has a varsity team and Tamarac has both a modified team and JV team. Players will go to the home school depending on the team level.
Football and cross country will be a true merger between the schools as there are currently programs in each, but with a declining participation. The cross country program will almost double in size with a more equal representation for boys and girls. Practices will be shared and meets will take place at Grafton State Park. The number of players in the football program will also increase significantly. This will benefit every player by fielding a complete modified, JV and varsity program with solid numbers at each level. Player safety was the major focus on merging football. Due to decreasing participation, the amount of time players were on the field increased, multiple positions were being filled by one player, and smaller younger players were facing much larger older players. An increase in numbers promotes a reduction in injuries, allowing for a focus on fundamental skills and safety, a reduced multi-position play, and facing opponents of a similar age and size.
The administrators, athletic directors and coaches from each school are working through schedules, bussing, uniforms and even a team name/mascot. Mergers must be approved on a yearly basis. The first year will be focused on the players, coaches and logistics. Players will choose the colors, a new mascot and name. Once these are determined, uniforms will be updated beginning year two. As this is a new venture for Hoosick Falls and only the second merger for Tamarac after ice hockey, a significant amount of time will be spent on creating a positive experience for everyone involved.