NUTLEY, NJ - Nutley High School Director of Athletics, Joe Piro, explained the decision to reorganize sub-varisty sports programs to maximize resources and potential of Raider Nation in a letter sent to all parents in the district. The letter, sent on May 24, is a pre-cursor to a presentation on Monday June 4 at John H. Walker Middle School.

In his letter, Piro explained that " declining participation numbers, sports specialization, concussions, fatigue, both mental and physical, pressures to earn scholarships," were factors leading to the change. In the upcoming season, sports will be organized as Junior Varsity consisting of freshman and sophomores, and Varsity consisting of juniors and seniors. 

Nutley will be following in the footsteps of other districts in the state, particularly in North Jersey,  that have reorganized in a similar fashion. Among the best know districts is Livingston softball, Cedar Grove softball, Montclair is having some challenges putting together a freshman football team. The challenges of attracting enough freshman athletes extends to most Newark schools, Lyndhurst, and Mt. St. Dominic Academy.

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Under the new system student athletes will still have to make their respective teams. In some cases there will be opportunities for sophomore students to place on varsity teams. The most significant changes to the athletic program will be the expansion of the sub-varsity schedule. The roster of sub-varsity teams is expected to expand as well. 

In Nutley, the current freshman baseball program shows some of the challenges faced under the old methodology. There are currently 15 freshman on the team, and just one coach. This limits the development of the players as the coach cannot provide the individual attention that some athletes need to rise to their full potential. Playing against other all-freshman teams also presents obstacles to the athletic experience. The baseball team had to travel long distances to play against other freshman team. In the case of playing in Bridgewaer-Raritan, travel time was greater than the time on the field. 

Piro told TAPinto Nutley that the new structure will create a 'true sub-varsity program in Nutley. Almost immediately there wil be a more competitive schedule and more opportunities for Nutley athletes to play. Piro shared the story of Girls Soccer. The seniors in this year's team starting out as a group of 19 athletes, over the course of their high school experience some athletes left the programs for all sorts of reasons. OF the original 19, only five continue as Nutley Raiders Soccer. 

Parents and residents are invited to attend the next Nutley Board of Education meeting on June 4 where Piro, and Nutley High School Principal Denis Williams will make a presentation about the reorganization.  Coaches from various sports are expected to be there as well. 

The June 4 Nutley Board of Education Meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the John H. Walker Middle School on Franklin Ave. 

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