Small fish in a big pond

POULSBO — With the opening of Kingston High School next month, North Kitsap High School will see a sizable chunk of its student athletes competing as Buccaneers as opposed to Vikings during the 2007-08 season.

NKHS will become one of the smaller 4A schools in the state, meaning that many of the schools the Vikings will face in Narrows League will have more students — and therefore a larger pool of athletes. The loss of an estimated 40 percent of its students will impact every sport at North.

Vikings fastpitch head coach Bill Hobaugh will lose a significant number of his players from his 2007 varsity and JV teams to Kingston.

“I am going to lose about two-thirds of my team next year and pretty much the whole JV team,” he said. “We might only have enough players for one team at North next year. We will have to see how many players turnout. It’s going to be a tough year.”

NKHS Athletic Director Trish Olson said the Vikings are hoping to compete in 2A/3A Olympic League next year.

“We have already said that we prefer to be in Olympic League when the 2008-09 school year begins,” she said. “We have every intention of moving to the Olympic League.”

This year, however, the estimated 1,200 students at NKHS will be on the cusp of 3A and face schools that typically have enrollments of 1,281 students or more. South Kitsap High School which is in the same league as North, has more than 2,500 students. The end result is a much larger pool of athletes.

Not every coach is doom and gloom, and not surprisingly, the permanently upbeat Tony Chisholm isn’t letting the change get him down.

Chisholm, who enters his second year as boys basketball coach at NKHS, is confident his team’s roster won’t be adversely effected.

“We had 24 kids in the program last year, and I don’t think we are losing any kids at all except seniors that graduated,” he said. “It’s going to be more of the same this year. We know all of the 4A schools in the Narrows League we compete against are going to be tough and have talented athletes.”

Despite the possibility of less athletes, Chisholm believes his team will put forth a better 2007-08 season than it did during a two-win campaign in 2006-07.

“Last year, we competed every single night and that’s the same thing we will do this year,” he said. “Even though we will be one of the smaller schools in 4A, our kids are pumped up and ready for the challenge. I am not worried about it at all.”

Vikings soccer head coach Chris May said nearly 60 percent of the players in his program from last year will be moving to KHS.

“It’s going to be a challenge competing (as a small 4A school) but I think we are up to it,” he said.

May also pointed out that prior to the opening of Kingston High School, NKHS was typically one of the smaller 4A schools in the Narrows League anyway.

“We have always been in a situation where we are going against some of the biggest schools in the state,” he said. “South Kitsap and some of the Tacoma schools have pretty huge enrollments. In our league, we have always been towards the lower end in terms of numbers.”

As such, May is confident NKHS teams will be competitors in the coming school year.

“I don’t think there will be that much of a difference from past years,” he said. “The biggest difference will be that most teams won’t have as much depth as they used to. There won’t be as many athletes available to come off the bench. Teams will be a little thinner.”

Despite the loss of athletes, Olson believes the Vikings athletic programs will rise to the occasion.

“It’s going to be a challenge this year at all levels,” she said. “We have a lot of excited kids and a lot of excited coaches.”

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