Youth wrestling to remain under Royals Wrestling Club

The Royalton School Board agreed by consensus to let the Royals Wrestling Club organize and run the youth wrestling program, as it has in the past.

After meeting with members of the Royals Wrestling Club, School Board Member Randy Hackett told the Board Monday, the Club wanted to pay coaches, to attract higher quality coaches.

However, coaches under the Community Education program in Royalton volunteer their time, as decided by the School Board. Sports coordinators under Community Education, however, do receive payment.

Hackett said his personal feeling was that since coaches were paid last year, he’d like to see them get paid this year as well.

Royalton Schools Supt. Jon Ellerbusch said the dilemma was in treating all coaches the same, across the board.

If the youth wrestling program were to fall under the umbrella of Community Education and the district allowed the Club to pay wrestling coaches, all coaches in the program would need to be paid, and at the same rate.

This cost would not be picked up by the district, because the Community Education program must be self-sustaining. The cost would be paid by families whose children are involved, Ellerbusch said. This may be a hardship for families, especially those who have more than one child participating, he said.

The superintendent said he’d like the costs to remain affordable, possibly drawing families to the community to take part. In turn, those families may then send their students to Royalton, resulting in thousands of dollars from the state for the district.

If the cost becomes too high, it may keep families away, he said.

Jeff Behrens, a member of the Royals Wrestling Club, said the group wanted to hire well-qualified wrestling coaches. Teaching proper technique in wrestling, one on one, is critical to the safety of the wrestlers, he said.

Behrens pointed out that well-qualified coaches had many opportunities to coach and to make more money doing it.

Director Michelle Carlson said she was a huge wrestling fan, pointing out her son was a career wrestler at Royalton from first grade to his senior year and then at college. Despite that, she reiterated that Community Education had a budget all of its own and had to cover itself.

“We can’t pay the wrestling coaches in Community Ed and not pay basketball or volleyball coaches. I just think it is unfair,” she said. “I, unfortunately, would have to side with the Wrestling Club doing it so they can pay the coaches.”

Last year, the Royalton Wrestling Club paid three primary coaches and one who helped out, costing $4,000 to $4,500. Close to 70 youths took part in the program.

Behrens said the expectation is that number of students will participate again this year. Students in the youth program range in age from pre-K to sixth grade.

Behrens said the Royals Wrestling Club initiated the conversation with the School Board, understanding the policy the district had in place.

“We had an athletic coordinator who talked about wanting to bring it back under the Community Education umbrella,” he said. “We wanted to get in front of it this year, to get a chance to work it out and to find out what both sides are thinking.”

That way, he said, there would be no confusion and the community would know what is happening.

One of the reasons the Royals Wrestling Club would like to see the youth wrestling program as part of Community Education is that it gives the program a little more priority as far as use of school facilities is concerned, Behrens said.

“And we have to go out and get our own insurance,” he said. “Through Community Education, it could be run underneath the school’s liability insurance. There is some added cost to doing it this way.”

Behrens said the Club is OK with the decision of the School Board.

“We’re grateful that we’ll be allowed to pay coaches to get good coaches,” he said. “We would like to work with the school district and create that environment, but run it through Community Ed and allow coaches to be paid. We would like, at some time, that something be worked out there.

“We’re glad we could come to a resolution acceptable to both parties,” he said.