Ellwood City Little Wolverines Presents Concerns to Ellwood City School Board

Over thirty parents and children arrived at the Ellwood City school board’s agenda meeting yesterday in response to the Athletic Director’s decision to forbid the use of Helling Stadium to the Ellwood City Little Wolverines on Sunday due to rain on Saturday.

The decision was made with concerns to safety and potential damages to the field and the board stated it supported the action taken by Athletic Director Darin Morrella.

The visitors, collectively representing the Ellwood City Little Wolverines, were morbidly upset because the game was Senior Night for the ECLW, and the cancellation forced the three scheduled games to be relocated to Central Valley, resulting in lower attendance and financial loss.

The ECLW prepared a written statement read verbatim by their secretary, Kelly Nardone. The written statement is included below.
[As a representative of the Ellwood City Little Wolverines, I would like to address several concerns we have encountered during our season with the hope of finding resolution and working collaboratively with you to help foster not only our relationships but also growth within the athletic arena for youth Football and Cheerleading.

This past weekend resulted in a tremendous loss to the ECLW organization, both financially and personally for coaches, players, cheerleaders, and families of the youth involved within the program. ECLW initially requested the use of the field for Saturday October 3, 2015 per required protocol. After researching via social media, Powder Puff learned of our request and sought permission to override our request to which they were granted. Although the ECLW organization was disappointed, we accepted that although this was unfair, we had enough time to rearrange our plans to hold our last home game, our Senior Night, on a Sunday afternoon, Oct. 4, 2015.

On the afternoon of Oct. 3, 2015, the President of the ECLW was contacted by Darin Morella to inquire about the use of the field for the following week regarding Powder Puff rescheduling due to rain. As always, the President of ECLW was accommodating and pleasant indicating we would work around whatever Powder Puff would need regarding the use of the field. At no time did Mr. Morella indicate he would be denying ECLW access to the field on the following day.

Shortly thereafter, the President of the Beaver County Youth Football League contacted the President of ECLW to notify him that Mr. Morella had contacted him and informed him that ECLW was not permitted to play at Helling Stadium the following afternoon. After multiple phone calls with Mr. Morella and attempts to reach Mr. Lape, Mr. Morella determined ECLW could not play on the field. This decision was given less than 24 hours prior to the previously scheduled games.

In an effort to better understand the structure of the Athletic Department, we are requesting clarification on the following:

Who should be our contact? Please provide the contact information for the individual as well.

What is the difference between the roles of the Athletic Director and the Head of Athletics?

We are aware of the custodial fee we are expected to pay when using the field. However, we are not unaware of the role of this custodian. We have called upon this individual during games, and he did not respond. For instance, during the August 20, 2015 game when the sprinklers began to spray in the middle of the game, the custodian was called upon multiple times that day, but did not arrive until he was reached via cell phone. He arrived on site approximately twenty minutes later.

Should the custodian be on site? If not, are we expected to pay the fee during the time he is not present?

What is the expectation for cleaning? The expectation has been unclear and based on who is asked the answer is different.

As a recommendation, perhaps field agreements should spell out the answer to the questions we have identified.

As you are aware, home games not only have costs associated, but they also generate revenue through concessions and 50/50 contributions. The board of ECLW has estimated a loss of $4810 due to the relocation of this game. Based on historical revenue, concessions would have generated approximately $3,400. We are hopeful that the majority of supplies purchased the day before will be refunded, but some items have already been opened and prepared which contributes to the loss. The 50/50 historically generates approximately $300. Participants’ family members were scheduled to volunteer their time that will now result in reimbursing the volunteers approximately $750 in work requirement fees due to the opportunity no longer being an option for them or in some cases, they were not available to attend the game at all due to location and time changes. We had already paid a non-refundable ambulance fee in the amount of $360. We would like you to consider reimbursing the ECLW organization the funds lost due to the unwarranted decision to cancel this game.

As I previously stated, the financial loss was not the only one felt by this organization. The youth were unable to play/cheer their last game on their home field. Many youth were not able to celebrate this day with family and friends that were intending to participate in the event due to the location and time changes. The photographer nearly missed the event due to the last minute changes. The atmosphere was not a true Senior Night for our youth as it was done in the middle of a Sunday afternoon with few Ellwood fans and hearts filled with disgust for the decision made by the Athletic Department.

Although we are fully aware we are in no way affiliated with Lincoln High School, we would like to be collaborative partners with you. We would like for you to respect the youth and families participating within ECLW. Working together will not only build great future teams, but it will build a better community. One of our core goals is to prepare youth to enter the high school programs with a solid foundation of fundamentals, respect, and work ethic.

ECLW would like to better understand the affiliation the Junior High football team currently has with Lincoln High School. Are they considered to be part of Lincoln High School? How are the boosters managed? Who holds insurance for this team? How do they gain field access?

We ask these questions not to create conflict but to understand and to potentially gain the same relationship with you that the Junior High team has been able to establish.

Thank you for taking the time to entertain the questions we have presented. I have bolded all areas to which we would like a response for your convenience. We look forward to the positive changes our open communication will create to allow us to better serve the youth of Ellwood City.]

The school board was unable to immediately address all concerns but did assure the ECLW that this unfortunate event will be used to foster a better spirit of communication between the ECLW and the school district.

More on the verbal concerns by the ECLW and the Board’s responses can be found here.

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