ELMSFORD, N.Y. — After more than 20 years, the Elmsford community may soon see the return of a football team for Alexander Hamilton High School students.
Both Elmsford and Briarcliff Manor's school boards OK'd a proposal last week that will merge Hamilton with Briarcliff Manor's existing football team to begin playing in fall 2013. Hamilton Athletic Director Robert Pollok said there has been a much higher interest for football among students in the past couple years, and, as a former football player, he's glad to see the plan in motion.
"Kids have been asking me for years and years," said Pollok about creating a football team. "I played high school and college football, so I understand the importance football has on both individual athletes and the community."
The Elmsford School District polled existing students in grades 7 through 11 and students who had left the district for private and parochial schools, and the results showed a "very high student interest," said Elmsford Superintendent Barbara Peters. Those who left Elmsford indicated they'd be interested in returning if a football team was formed.
"We know there's no guarantee," Peters added.
The team would be "budget-neutral," meaning any additional costs would require the Elmsford athletic department to cut into its existing budget. Peters is estimating the team will cost around $40,000 for transportation and hiring two assistant coaches.
"We're making every attempt to stay within the tax levy cap," Peters said about the 2013-2014 school budget. "This is a win-win for us as long as we can do it within the budget parameters."
The merger is mutually beneficial for both Hamilton and Briarcliff Manor. Briarcliff has been struggling to keep its football program alive because of a lack of interest, Pollok said. While Hamilton has merged with Woodlands High School in the past, Briarcliff Manor was the only Section 1 school that was looking for more players.
Pollok said he hopes the merger will revive students' interest in football so that Hamilton can soon have a program of its own.
"They're merging to save the program, we're merging to eventually begin our own," Pollok said.