Nederland High School to eliminate football, offer soccer instead

NEDERLAND, Colo. -- Nederland High School is ending its football program starting this year.

It is completely eliminating the sport from its curriculum.

Concussions were a concern,  but the school said that's not the reason football is being sidelined.

The sport has been part of the Nederland Middle-Senior High School since most people can remember.

The news the program was ending was tough for Damon Vigil. He was hoping to start his senior year as the Panthers' quarterback.

"It’s always been a part of my life. A huge part of my life. It’s really big in my heart and I was just really sad when I heard that," he said.

But when the team started having problems finding enough players for games, the school’s athletic director formed a committee to determine whether the program was worth keeping.

All the talk of concussions had some parents worried.

But athletic director Rick Elertson said that was not the biggest concern.

"It wouldn’t be truthful for me to say that some kids aren’t playing because of concussions, that’s just reality," he said. "But that isn’t what’s happened up here. What’s happened up here is declining enrollment.”

With just 117 kids in grades 9 through 12, there just weren’t enough players to put a team together, so he asked them, what they wanted to play?

"They spoke pretty clearly that soccer is of high interest," Elertson said. "And I think that’s because there is a very good feeder program up here. Peak to Peak for soccer. And we don’t have that in football.”

Peak to Peak in Nederland helps kids learn how to play soccer starting at 5 years old.

Cooper Nielsen, 15, said he’ll miss football, but he’ll make the switch.

"I felt pretty sad you know not having its physicality and everything like that but I mean everything has a time and place to go and I’ll play any sport," he said.

Vigil said he’ll try to play football at another district school when this decades-old tradition comes to end in Nederland.

Students will be allowed to play football in Boulder.

Nederland made history last year when it hired Beth Buglione as coach. She became the first woman to be a high school varsity football coach in Colorado history.

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