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August 29, 2003

Indiana Deaf drops football for 2003 1 game into season

From: Indianapolis Star, IN - Aug 29, 2003

Injuries, lack of numbers make it impossible to continue; Northside school looking to 2004.

By Pat McKee

Limited numbers and lack of experience among participants on the Indiana School for the Deaf football team have prompted school officials to shut down the program for the remainder of 2003.

The Deaf Hoosiers had just 14 players in uniform for last Saturday's season-opening game against Mississippi School for the Deaf, a 48-0 loss that was stopped in the second half when injuries reduced the Indiana Deaf squad to just 10 healthy players.

This week's opponent, Union City, was notified Monday that Indiana Deaf would be unable to field a team. The decision to cancel the rest of the games came late Wednesday and was announced Thursday.

"The players are taking the news hard, and it's hardest on the juniors and seniors," school principal Bob Kovatch said.

"They would like to go on regardless of low numbers and inexperience. But our goal, as it is for any school, is we want our students in a positive environment and a safe environment. With our numbers and experience, we were not sure we could do that."

Kovatch said first-year coach Brian Thorn would continue working with the athletes on daily after-school conditioning activities in an effort to revive the program for 2004.

The principal noted that he expected at least 20 players in the Northside school's program next year as 10 current underclassmen would be joined by as many as 11 eighth-graders who are on this year's junior high team.

Kovatch said the school considered several scenarios before closing down for the season.

Those included canceling games against its larger-school opponents or playing eight-man instead of the traditional 11-man games. The latter idea proved unworkable when the Indiana High School Athletic Association said it could not sanction eight-man games because of a lack of officials who were licensed to work contests with the modified rules.

"This is not a decision that was made lightly," Kovatch said. "In the end, the utmost thing in my mind was how safe are we going to be?"

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