Island eighth graders pulled for three high school sports next year

Three high school teams will need additional athletes next year. — Sam Moore

Monday night the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) committee approved three waivers to allow Island eighth graders to participate on the high school girl’s JV soccer team, girl’s cross-country team, and boy’s JV hockey team.

The waivers allow the high school to field a team when there are not enough student athletes interested or available in the respective sport. The boy’s JV hockey program used eighth graders this year, which athletic director Mark McCarthy said was successful.

“Those are currently the three waivers that we hopefully won’t have to come back again for, but it’s depending on the numbers game,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep some of these JV programs alive, and in the case of the girls cross-country program — keeping that alive.”

Committee member Robert Lionette of Chilmark said he did not agree with the practice of allowing eighth graders to play with high schoolers for safety reasons.

“Last year it was one program; this year it’s three programs,” he said. “We have a high school enrollment that’s down from a high 10, 12 years ago. Are we maybe seeing the fact that our programming is too robust for the population?”

MVRHS student representative Ellie Hanjian said she supported the request. Last year MVRHS was unable to field a girl’s JV soccer team.

“I have a few peers who because there wasn’t a JV [girl’s soccer] team available, they couldn’t play because they weren’t at the varsity level at that point … I personally think it’s really sad when someone can’t play a sport just because they can’t be on varsity,” she said. “I think everyone should have the ability to play sports and be on a team together, and be able to represent the Island in that way.”

The committee approved the waivers. Mr. Lionette opposed.