The Rhinebeck Central School District has approved the addition of a varsity girls swim team for the fall season, and plans to add a varsity boys swim team in the winter.
After a successful club season, Rhinebeck boys lacrosse may also be added as a varsity sport in the spring.
All programs are contingent on sufficient fundraising from their respective booster clubs, however, as the school has not budgeted money for either swimming or lacrosse.
Thus, the Rhinebeck Varsity Swim Team Booster Club and the Friends of Rhinebeck Lacrosse Booster Club must finance the programs entirely, at least for the 2012-13 school year.
The swim team booster club has already provided the school with enough funds to support a girls program in the fall, and anticipates being able to pay for a boys team in the winter. The combined cost of the girls and boys programs is estimated to be about $14,000.
The initiative to start a swim program at Rhinebeck began back in May 2011 when Tom Weckesser and his daughter, Kayla, teamed up with Janet Sistare, and her daughter, Katie, to approach Athletic Director Steve Boucher with the idea. Along with several other high school students, the group worked through the process with Boucher and eventually proposed the idea to the school board.
“A lot of swimmers are dedicated to one sport and don’t play a sport in high school because of that,” Weckesser said. “These students wanted a chance to represent their school in a sport.”
Weckesser and Sistare, whose daughters swim in a winter league at Bard College, are now the president and vice president of the Rhinebeck Varsity Swim Team Booster Club.
Weckesser said the girls team has 10 confirmed swimmers for 2012 and about 12 boys have shown interest for the winter season. Coaching positions have been posted separately for the boys and girls teams, and the school hopes to announce a coach for the girls team within the next few weeks, according to Boucher.
Both swim teams will practice at the Bard College athletic center in Annandale, but will not host any meets this school year.
Rhinebeck lacrosse finished its first season with a 4-3 record, competing against other club teams in the area and several prep schools. Former Vassar men’s coach James Barysh coached the 19-person squad and will likely return next year.
The original plan for the program was to play two seasons at the club level before moving up to varsity, but the possibility of making the jump next year has not been ruled out.
Barysh, Boucher and other district administrators are currently in the process of determining if the program will continue as a club sport next year or move up to varsity.
Players are hoping to make the early leap to varsity and are confident the team can compete at a higher level.
“The fact that we posted a winning record this season playing against some good competition shows we could hold our own as a varsity team,” said rising junior Roan Gideon, who was at the forefront of the effort last year to bring lacrosse to Rhinebeck High School.
Boucher confirmed that the athletic department is looking to make a recommendation to the school board by the end of the month.
As for fundraising, The Rhinebeck Varsity Swim Team Booster Club has raised money over the past year via an iPad raffle during the holiday season, an October coin drop held in the Village of Rhinebeck, and the continuous selling of Rhinebeck spirit wear, such as magnets and bracelets. Multiple local businesses have made donations to the booster club as well.
Friends of Rhinebeck Lacrosse holds two annual lacrosse tournaments and a rummage sale, which allowed them to donate $15,000 to the school in 2012. This year, the Summer Sizzler tournament is scheduled for July 21 and 22 at the high school.
A move to varsity would likely bump up the cost from the $13,000 needed last year, but Friends of Rhinebeck Lacrosse plans to raise sufficient money to support either a club or varsity team in 2013, according to Gideon.