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Torrington High School girls soccer numbers at an all-time low. What can be done?

POSTED August 09, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: Just the mention of the words, Co-Op when talking about the largest school in the Northwest Corner makes one scratch their head.

It is a word though, that Torrington girls’ soccer coach Mario Longobucco finds himself using as the numbers of girls who will be part of the program this year shrink to unreal depths.

With the fall high school season just around the corner, Longobucco is expecting his team to consist of a remarkable low 14 players, including an extra goalie.

When Longobucco took over, he had 38 players come to try out but the numbers have steadily decreased each year to the point that they may not be able to field a team after the 2016 season.

“We are graduating seven this year and don’t have many coming up,” Longobucco said. “So obviously our numbers are going to plummet.”

The loss of middle school sports has not helped the situation that may end up affecting other sports as well.

Not having a travel or youth team contributing players on a yearly basis doesn’t help the situation either.

“We have not had a U-14 team come to Torrington in the seven years I have been here,” Longobucco said. “Our oldest team in the pipeline with Torrington Youth Soccer is in sixth grade so they are a ways away.”

So for the 2017 campaign the Raiders are looking for a partner on the pitch.

Longobucco had tried to see if an emergency co-op could be put in for 2016 but word came back that it couldn’t happen until ’17 at the earliest.

Why have the numbers dropped on the girls side while the boy’s team regularly see’s over 60 come to try out?

Longobucco contributes it to a number of factors.

“It’s a perfect storm of several things,” Longobucco said. “It’s people who have lost faith in our school and are sending their kids out of district, number one. A changing demographics coupled with lower enrollment hurts us as well.”

On the boy’s side, there are up to five travel teams that contribute players to the high school every year but the loss of middle school sports may end up hurting them in the future as well.

Losing kids to other schools happens all the time to schools but when the numbers dwindle down to where they are now, it becomes critical.  

Torrington lost six or seven potential players who went outside the Torrington area to either Wamogo, Wolcott Tech, Northwestern or Holy Cross to play soccer this year.

How to keep students from leaving the district after they graduate from the middle school is a challenge the entire high school faces.

Much has been done to improve the communication between parents of middle school kids and administrators at the high school.

Having consistent leadership at the high school is critical for the future of Torrington High School and with the changes that occurred at the end of the school year in June, one hopes that consistency is here to stay.

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