Soccer recognized as high school sport by M. Jill Sundstrom The increasing popularity of soccer has led to its recognition as a high school sport in Vermillion.
The Vermillion Youth Soccer League and the Vermillion Board of Education signed an agreement last spring to initiate boys and girls junior varsity and varsity teams.
�After quite a bit of interchange, the school board and soccer league agreed that the league will provide the structure, financing and organization of the sport, while the school board agreed to grant recognition to the high school soccer players, allowing them to receive letters,� said Jeff Pederson, who coaches the girls team. �The league also agreed to adopt the Vermillion schools activities handbook, which outlines eligibility according to academics, attendance and discipline.�
The school is not required to pay for the soccer program, Pederson added, and scheduling games, acquiring referees and transportation is provided by the Vermillion Youth Soccer League. Pederson and the other coaches, Derric Iles and Scott Brink, perform their duties on a volunteer basis.
�The appeal is that the soccer players now have recognition from the school and an equal standing among other high school athletes,� Pederson said.
�The kids are excited to be able to letter and represent their high school,� added Brink, who coaches the boys teams. �Many have not been able to play for a couple of years because of the age groupings in the youth league, and we have a lot of young kids out for the team. I think this will really take off.�
�The Sioux Falls Soccer Association established a model for this program two years ago when it negotiated with the Sioux Falls School Board for recognized high school soccer,� Pederson added. �That cut the ice and established a model around the state that approximately 20 other leagues have followed.�
VHS is the only Class A school in the Eastern South Dakota Conference, which includes Class AA schools from Yankton, Aberdeen, Huron, Mitchell, Watertown and Brookings.
�To be playing teams from those double-A schools speaks well of our program,� Pederson said.
As the season began, 29 girls, including one eighth- grader, and 33 boys were on the junior varsity and varsity teams.
�We have another first with a player on the varsity girls team from Elk Point,� Pederson said. �Because we have a number of children from out of town playing on our league, the school board has allowed students from other towns to play and letter in Vermillion.�
The girls varsity team stands at 3-0, with two wins against Mitchell and a victory over Yankton.
The boys varsity team has a 2-1 record after beating Mitchell twice. They lost to Yankton Sept. 8.
This Saturday, Sept. 12, Vermillion will host Aberdeen in double headers for both boys and girls JV and varsity teams. Junior varsity games will be played at noon and 4 p.m., with varsity action scheduled at 2 and 6 p.m. The boys will play at the university field just east of the DakotaDome. The girls will play at Cotton Park.