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Letters to the editor

March 16, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
(Editor’s note: The Bellwood-Antis School Board on Tuesday voted down a proposal to add boys and girls soccer. The Mirror has received several letters on the subject).

I would like to take a moment and respond to Shannon McCaulley’s letter in last Sunday’s Sports Mailbag.

First and foremost, I would like to remind him that high school athletic programs are primarily for the benefit and growth of the students. His selfish concerns that some boys may want to play soccer rather than football baffles me. I would much rather see a child involved in an activity that he/she enjoys and possibly excels in than participating in one that they half-heartedly picked from a short line of choices.

Did it ever occur to McCaulley that adding a soccer program may enhance the lives of many students who otherwise would not participate in school sports? Football is not the sport of choice for well over half of the student population at Bellwood. Consider that most girls do not play and a large number of boys pass at the opportunity as well.

Personally, I love the Bellwood-Antis football program and attend most games,. However, I’m also a parent of a soccer player and can tell you the games are just as enjoyable.

I, like McCaulley, think it would be great to have a gymnastics team, even a swim team, but also agree that the size of the district and the amount of funding available determines what activities can be offered. I firmly believe Bellwood choosing not to offer a soccer program is not due to lack of interest or funding.

I believe the decision rested on a false fear that it would somehow negatively impact the football program. That’s unfortunate for the many kids who would enjoy, excel and grow in the sport.

McCaulley’s statement that “outsiders” are pushing some “un-American” sport onto “small town USA” is absurd. The fact of the matter is soccer can no longer be considered a “foreign” activity. It is just as huge in the United States, and we certainly would not be the only Class A school in the area to have a soccer team.

Maybe McCaulley’s “old-school mindset” inhibits him from accepting this fact.

I suggest the school board talk with the Tyrone and Altoona leagues and see how many of “our” kids play in their programs. My daughter plays for the Tyrone league, and it has grown so rapidly that I worry at some point they will have to limit membership to those living within their district.

Bellwood needs a soccer team. Tyrone, Altoona, and other outside areas can’t carry us forever. It is ignorant to believe that “soccer is a sport very few desire in our community.”

I’m not sure what part of the community McCaulley spoke with but for the dozens of players, fans, and parents, I can attest that the lack of desire is not an issue.

And if it helps matters, I was raised and graduated from Bellwood so I’m anticipating that my opinion will be worthy of McCaulley’s consideration.

Tammie Wombacher


Bellwood thrives on its football

I am writing to support and agree with Shannon McCaulley that a soccer program would hurt the Bellwood-Antis football program.

I was born and raised in Bellwood, and from the time we were in second grade most of the boys wanted to play football. I still remember playing touch football that often times turned into tackle football on the pavement at the old North Side School in Bellwood during recess. It was almost like we were trying out because Bud Grazier would watch us play every day, and we often talked with him afterwards. These are all special memories for me and I’m sure many others.

I believe that bringing a soccer team into Bellwood-Antis High School would bring an end to the youth football league as we know it and destroy the proud institute that is Bellwood-Antis Blue Devil football. I feel we are already seeing this happen in Tipton where the East Antis Rams are barely able to field a youth league team and almost in the same field the Rams practice in there are what looks like 100 children playing soccer. Granted, some of the children are not from Bellwood but some are (Antis Township area).

Some have made the argument that a soccer program at Bellwood would not hurt the football team. I have to disagree. I lived in Gettysburg for about six years before coming back to Bellwood, and I have coached at the varsity level at Biglerville Area High School and have seen this first hand. Yes, the smaller, faster athletes did play soccer as well as the bigger, faster athletes. The community was completely divided as well as the students in the school. This once proud football community was divided and the football team was barely able to get 20 kids come out for the football team.

This was a Class AA school near the Gettysburg area. I can only think this would be even worse at Class A Bellwood-Antis. I played football at Bellwood and coach John Hayes, coach Chet Dillon and all the staff taught all of us how to play the game the right way and many life lessons as well, not to mention the pride you felt and still feel wearing the blue and gold.

The Bellwood-Antis football program is an institution of success and is known statewide for its excellence, and I for one will do everything within my power to see that the football program does not fade away.

I have wondered why this topic is gaining momentum and one of the theories that I have is that parents are afraid their children will get hurt playing football. That is true; football is not the kind of sport you should play if you are worried about getting hurt, although I played for 12 years and never had a serious injury nor have I played with anyone who suffered a serious injury.

You will have bumps and bruises and three practices a day in August weren’t always fun. I guess soccer is easier; maybe that’s the draw. I write this with a heavy heart as well because when my son was born, one of the first thoughts I had was I can not wait to watch him play football. We found out shortly after his birth that he had a rare heart defect and needed numerous surgeries and will continue to throughout his life. He will never play football and although that is an extremely minor detail in his life, he could play soccer when he gets older.

We would have no problem taking him to Altoona to play soccer or you never know. Maybe he will be a great musician in the band or a trainer for the football team. I still would not want a soccer team at Bellwood-Antis.

Frank Aaron Pulcinello Sr.

Antis Township

Goodman column hits home

Kellie Goodman wrote a very good column that captured the essence of the thread that runs through all wrestlers, former or otherwise.

A good friend of mine, Tim Bainey Sr., was an accomplished wrestler at Philipsburg-Osceola (he won two or three regional titles and was a PIAA silver medalist).

This past weekend, at regionals, he addressed a young wrestler. He started out by saying ‘‘You don’t know who I am,” but the kid interrupted him to say ‘‘Yes I do!’’

The young kids know and respect the older fellows, and the reverse is true. That’s all part of the ‘‘I know where you’ve been and what you are doing’’ thing Kellie wrote about.

Dave Mason


Now act the part, Big Ben

Bravo for Big Ben. That big chunk of dough should last him eight years.

Then he could hold out for $102 million more. He should be in a real good mood. Maybe this is the right time to ask him.

He should please give us a break and wear his cap the right way, not backwards.

Marty Turnbaugh


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