A groundswell of support by St. Croix Central district residents has the district Board of Education considering adding soccer teams for boys and girls.

The decision could come as early as the December school board meeting. If approval is given at that meeting, Central could have varsity boys and girls teams that will be competing in the Middle Border Conference in the 2020-21 school year.

The push started at the September school board meeting when 30 parents attended to plead their case. That led to a committee being formed to investigate the feasibility of the sport. Central athletic director Jason Koele said the committee was given the task of coming up with criteria on finances, facilities and the sustainability of the program. He said through surveys of students, it was that there is sufficient interest in the starting the sport for boys and girls in the upcoming school year.

Koele said the parents deserve the credit for making this happen.

“They were advocating for their students who play in Hudson soccer leagues,” Koele said.

He said there is sufficient interest to run a varsity team for boys and girls next year. The survey also led the committee to believe there can be numbers within three years to support varsity and junior varsity teams for both genders.

Koele said there is a group of 23 seventh grade boys playing soccer in youth leagues and that grade should help the long-term viability of the sport when that group reaches the high school.

“We have a growing population, we need to offer more opportunities,” Koele said.

Koele attended a meeting of conference athletic directors last week and was informed the Panther teams could be worked into the conference schedule as early as next year.

If soccer is approved at Central, Koele said the games will either be played at the high school or middle school football field. Koele said there is a district resident who will likely be hired as the varsity coach for both Central soccer teams and that person would be in charge of arranging the high school coaching staffs.

In contacting prospective soccer players, Koele said there was a possibility of a slight impact on boys cross country in the fall and girls track in the spring.

“The sports participation numbers stayed almost the same as our high school enrollment numbers continue to climb,” Koele said of the future projections.