CVCS, Falconer may combine athletic teams

CASSADAGA – Time is ticking down on the future of sports for Cassadaga Valley Central School.

During the athletic merger meeting held Wednesday night at the school, parents and students seemed to be more at ease with the concept of merging.

Falconer has expressed interest in merging with Cassadaga Valley and the deadline to make a decision involving football is Feb. 10.

Football remains the biggest concern and this deadline is very important for both schools.

If Falconer does not merge, it will lose its football program, and if Cassadaga Valley does not merge, it will have to stand alone or face the same fate as Falconer.

High School Principal Josh Gilevski said all sports are being considered for the merger with Falconer.

“Falconer’s philosophy is a lot like ours,” he said. “They said they will keep programs as long as they can sustain them, and we feel the same way.”

Gilevski said an agreement has been made between the schools that if they merge, the schools will meet each other’s needs.

“There will be a 50/50 split with all activities,” he said. “We wouldn’t have the home games all at one place; it would be half and half.”

Superintendent Thomas Schmidt said the most important thing is safety.

“Anytime we merge we will transfer students to the athletic events,” he said. “Safety comes first; we need the numbers for safety and we need to be safe on the field.”

Uniforms and mascots will be for whichever home teams players will be playing for. If they play on Falconer’s home field, players will wear Falconer uniforms and use their mascot. If they play on the Cassadaga Valley home field, they will wear Cassadaga Valley uniforms and use the Cassadaga Valley mascot.

Gilevski said merging will not cause cuts.

“We talked with Falconer and if we merge there will be no cuts,” he said. “We will consider numbers and the needs of our schools.”

Cross country was brought up as a bright side to merging. Many parents would like their children to be able to participate in cross country and Falconer has agreed to allow this if the merger takes place.

“Kids who are interested in doing cross country would have that opportunity,” Gilevski said.

“If our board chooses to go ahead with the merge, students can play cross country,” Schmidt said.

“We have deadlines to meet and we have been invited to a meeting with Falconer to talk more about this, and at the board meeting Feb. 10 we will need to make a choice on football at least,” Schmidt said.

When asked if Cassadaga had any other merging options with other schools, the answer was “no.”

“Falconer is the last option to merge with football,” Schmidt said. “We will be on our own next year if we don’t merge with Falconer, and that is only if we can play safely.”

Athletic Director Mark Petersen said he has had a lot of positive feedback from students on merging.

“Students are very positive about merging football with Falconer,” he said.

Schmidt said they are trying to provide opportunities for kids who have always been there.

“Clymer and Sherman are huge rival teams who set aside their rivalry; they merged because it was the best thing to do for their kids,” Schmidt said. “Both communities sat down and said this is what is best for our kids, and now they are doing great.”

Petersen said he lived through the merger of Falconer and Frewsburg and there are pros and cons.

“The cons are never the kids,” he said.

“Everyone wants their own homecoming for football,” Schmidt said. “I can tell you that things are different now with schools; kids are friends through social media with kids from other schools, and the barriers have already been broken down.”

Schmidt said there are kids who come to school only because of athletics and if they can provide a good education and have sports they will.

In other business, snow days have been used up for the most part at Cassadaga Valley.

Schmidt said they only have one snow day left and he hopes they will make it through the rest of the year without having to use it.

“Instead of closing today (Wednesday) we had a teacher day; on March 21 we will have a student day,” he said. “This will make up for a snow day.”

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