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In the latest budget for Harwood, it is clear it was a tough year to get the budget together. The increase on paper may come as a bit of a shock to voters, but I urge you that not passing the budget could have dire consequences. If the voters reject the budget, this will force a cut of all middle school sports. The thought of this leaves me with a sick feeling in my stomach. Middle school sports were such a huge part of my life when growing up, oftentimes being a catalyst to the otherwise rocky social life that is middle school. It allowed me to meet new friends, stay active and most importantly stay busy. To think of kids not having these opportunities really gives me a feeling that I don’t like.
I understand that with hard budget times comes very hard decisions, but for me this is a no-brainer. We, as voters, need to make sure this budget passes for the sake of all of those athletes who would go without soccer, cross-country, field hockey, basketball, Nordic skiing, wrestling, track and field and all of the other sports they usually get to participate in.
These kids deserve the opportunity for athletics. They deserve the chance to get all of the benefits that come with athletics, which goes well beyond simply learning a jump shot or discus. They deserve the opportunity to get the chance to meet coaches that could be role models. They need the opportunity to learn how to work as a team with others for a common goal. They need the chance to get everything most of us got out of athletics. They need the chance to just have fun in a safe, familiar environment. Why, in a society that is watching itself get stuck behind computer screens and video games, take away one of the few escapes some of these kids have from such electronic devices?
I know that money is tight for everyone, but please do not cut these opportunities for all the seventh- and eighth-graders in the Mad River Valley to save just a few dollars for everyone. We, as responsible voters, need to make sure to be frugal and conservative but, for the sake of the children, not here.
Logan Cooke lives in Waitsfield and is president of the Mad River Valley Little League and a Waitsfield Select Board member.