If Bill Kyle, co-coordinator of junior and high school athletics in Montgomery County, were to choose one of the more important functions of his job, it would have to be reacting to public interest.
"We are lobbyists, that's for sure," he says when talking about how girls soccer became a sport in the 1980s. "We react to interest by kids. That's the way we developed this whole program; we responded to interest."
But usually before the Montgomery Board of Education and County Council approves any program, Kyle and Pat Barry, the other co-coordinator, have to lobby, as they did for girls soccer. Coaches and players recommend new sports, but it is Kyle and Barry who persuade the Board to approve the program and help persuade the Council to appropriate funds.
"The big lobbying effort is getting to the superintendent," Kyle says. "Then the Board will have open meetings and we are asked to testify. Then it goes to the County Council, which, in effect, approves the budget. So it's a pretty long process.
"We rarely lose out on what we ask for because we've been very careful about being honest about what we need and what is appropriate. We haven't added a lot, expecting a cut."
Barry, who is entering her 10th year and specializes in in-house projects while Kyle concentrates on facilities, said, "The Board of Education has never turned down a program that has interest from the community."
In Prince George's County, Chuck Brown and Frances Thomas, co-supervisors of athletics and physical education, have similar duties, sitting on committies and researching and analyzing proposals. But lobbying is not a function, Brown says.
One proposal in which Brown played a role in securing was the recent player eligibility rule. Brown served on the committee that established the rule, which stipulates that an student must have a 2.0 average to participate in all extracurricular activies.
"It was one of our biggest steps forward," says Brown, who handles kindergarten through 12th grade. "States all over the country have asked us to send them information on it."
In addition to lobbying, Kyle and Barry develop physical education curricula for grades 7-12; provide guidance to principals and coaches; evaluate and develop programs, and produce an athletic handbook for the county. They meet with coaches of every sport before and after the season, athletic directors monthly and principals three times a year.
One recent recommendation by some principals and athletic directors is that the county provide for a second gym to schools that lack space. Kyle and Barry will determine which schools should get another facility.
"It's Pat's and my job to analyze who should get the second gyms and in what order," says Kyle. "We use different kind of data, and not everyone agrees with us. We look at the size of the school. We look at the number of students electing for education. We look at what other facilities they have, the number of grades the school has."
Getting funds for such projects has been easier in recent years, Kyle said. He says the athletic budget this year is $179,000, and that the Board is considering a $150,000 increase.
With an increase in the budget, one of Kyle's and Barry's goals could be met: reducing fund raising by individual schools.
"For a number of years, we had no increase (in the budget)," says Barry. "We had declining enrollment and inflation. Now that we're growing, we have convinced the board that a lot of coaches and players energies had been devoted to an inordinate amount of fund raising."
In Prince George's County, Brown says expenditures have been reduced the last two years.
"Basically, it boils down to finances," says Brown, who would like to see more money allocated to upgrade the transportation system and to supplement schools' spending. "Our schools need more financing from the Board. The areas we need help in have been reduced. The '86 budget is already in, so we'll have to wait for '87."
In addition to seeking more funds, Barry and Kyle are trying to increase the number of coaches who also teach in the school.
"Teachers see the kids between classes," says Barry. "The communication is better."
"We try to do the best with the people we have," says Kyle. "One-half to two-thirds of coaching is done by academic teachers. They just have a lot of experience and usually a big interest."
With the closing of Northwood High School, Kyle also is paying attention to the problems that might occur at schools picking up the displaced athletes. When Peary closed last year, some athletes were dropped from teams when the new ones came in. Kyle would like to avoid similar problems this year.
"We had to make sure the schools receiving the Northwood kids were sensitive to their selection on teams," he says. "They're used to having their own kids and then here comes an outsider. We ask them to use their common sense and bend over backwards."
He tells the coaches: "If you have a team that is pretty well set with your regular kids, maybe add a couple of uniforms and add a couple of kids. Get them on teams and involved in their schools."
For Kyle and Barry, there are few philosophical disagreements. The only difference may be, Kyle says, is that he's more of a feminist than Barry, who handles most of the girls programs.
"The program is pretty much established and stabilized now," he says. "There's not much change. We can't afford to add anything. We feel the program is very comprehensive, equal for both boys and girls."