BELGRADE — On May 4, Belgrade residents will have the opportunity to vote to pass a levy that will save middle school and high school sports in their area from being cut.
“We're talking about $9.65 a month (in extra taxes) to pass all these. For a full year it’s like $140, $136. We're not asking for much, but we’re asking for the support of this community, and I don’t doubt Belgrade will come through on it,” Belgrade activities director Toby Robinson said.
If the levy doesn’t pass, the only sports left would be varsity basketball, volleyball and football. All middle school and sub-varsity sports would be cut as well.
“Even at those high-revenue sports, they’re going to be saying sub-varsity is not going to have teams," Robinson said. "What does that mean? Middle school doesn’t have a team, we don’t have sub-varsity. Well, we’re going to play varsity this year, great. What are we going to do next year? Those kids graduate. Now we have kids not interested anymore, we have kids that didn’t get to play.”
Some kids depend on high school sports, not only to grow as people, but for college scholarships or opportunities. Right now, according to wrestling head coach Bryce Weatherston, his team has four or five athletes that have a shot to wrestle in college.
“It’s detrimental, honestly," said Weatherston, who won multiple state championships as Panther. "As far as our program goes, we’re on the chopping block right now. Tradition runs deep with Belgrade wrestling. ... We’re just trying to do everything we can to make the community aware of the severity of it and just try and keep Belgrade wrestling alive, to be honest.”
After-school activities and sports also help kids stay out of trouble.
“If you don’t have these avenues, bad choices are going to come," said Weatherston. "These kids, if they don’t have anything at 3:30 at the end of the day to keep them on the right path, they’re going to find ways to get in trouble. And maybe they won’t, but I bet you’ll see a rise in that. It’s going to be terrible for our community.”
As for some athletes, they could very well move out of the Belgrade area. That goes for Robinson as well.
“I’ll be dead honest with you: As a parent, I want my kid, my children to go to a school and to participate in something," Robinson said. "I have a three-sport athlete daughter and another one coming into high school next year. I’ll tell you what, if I can find a spot for them to go, if it’s a private school to go play sports in high school because it’s what they want to do I will do whatever I can. As activities director, I may have my own children going to another area, another school.”
Ballots will be shipped out on April 16 and the official election day to vote is May 4.
Belgrade residents can see the exact amount the levy will increase their taxes by clicking here.