SASD should focus on feeder programs for all sports


Leah Pelaez

Varsity basketball team meets in huddle with their coach, Tarik El-Bassiouni

Noah Morell, Staff Writer

Every year interest in youth sports decreases at an alarming rate. According to, the percentage of boys 6-12 playing sports has decreased by 11.3 percent since 2012, and the number of girls has decreased by 2.5 percent.

Even though these percentages are not that high, the total percentage of kids playing sports is only 38% for boys and 31% for girls.

Stroudsburg High School Principal, Mr. Jeff Sodl, confirmed that national trends are also felt in our community.  Sodl said, “there has been a huge decline in youth sports.”

One of the main reasons for the decrease in youth participation is the decline of youth feeder programs. This gives kids fewer opportunities to play the sports they love.

“Feeder programs are fundamental to the success of any varsity sports team,” said SHS graduate Nathan Reish (’22). “I think it should be a priority for Stroudsburg to try to get these youth programs back to how they once were.” Reish was a distinguished athlete who participated in cross country, football, basketball, and track at SHS.

When Nathan Reish was a child the sports he played had feeder programs. This included; football, baseball, cross country, and basketball.

Sadly, the Stroudsburg Area School District has seen several feeder programs shrink or even disappear in recent years.  The result is that varsity teams suffer.

When I was young, there was a fifth and sixth-grade football program, a youth basketball program, and the little league baseball program; those were just the sports I was involved in. Youth programs in the early grades are often referred to as feeder programs due to the fact that they feed athletes into school sports.

Some of these youth feeder programs have gone away; of those I did, little league baseball still exists today. However, Stroudsburg no longer has football or basketball feeder programs.

One reason for the loss of youth programs is cost.  Stroudsburg Athletic Director, Sean Richmond, said, ” the cost of liability insurance is astronomical.”

Playing in the 5th and 6th grade Stroudsburg Football program gave me a solid introduction to skills that I still use to this day on the varsity team,

— junior Jackson Brancato

Even though little league baseball has survived, it has been rapidly losing players and coaches. When I played Little League there were 16 teams, playoffs, and a championship, now, there are only 6 teams. With fewer players and coaches, there is a loss of potentially great players, who would enhance our school teams.  

Many winning schools near Stroudsburg have great, competitive feeder programs.

For example, Pocono Mountain West athletic Director, Michael DelGrosso said that West still has youth organizations for, “baseball, softball, wrestling, basketball, football, and soccer.” This shows in the success of their varsity sports. Pocono Mountain West puts up a fight against valley teams every year and has competed to win districts many times in recent history.

In today’s world, if students want to get involved in sports, If children want to begin these sports, their families often have to seek out a third party. A third-party program is a program not run through the school, that can have a high cost to families.

This takes away from the competitiveness and pride in community sports. When students participate in a third-party program, they are often on a team with students from many different school districts.  The notion of Stroudsburg pride is lost.

Parents also have to pay a lot of money for these third-party programs if they wish to involve their children. If a family is not financially sound, they may not be able to afford this sport for their child.

These programs can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. For example, to join the Saints youth football program, the cost is around $400. 

If the school were to continue with these feeder programs, parents would have a safe and less expensive way to keep their kids involved in the sport they love, and the kids would have effective practices leading them to the ultimate goal of being a Stroudsburg varsity athlete. 

I believe that the best way to support youth programs is through the school.  I propose that the school should sponsor a youth program for each of its varsity sports.  These programs could be run in elementary and middle schools. 

By having it sponsored by the school, fees could be kept to a minimum which would make it accessible to many children.

Over the years interest in traditional outdoor sports has diminished.  Fewer and fewer kids are playing sports altogether let alone having that competitive spirit to win. 

“It is very sad that youth football programs have been canceled,” said sophomore football player Ethan Dudsak. “The future generations are being deprived of the opportunity to compete and gain knowledge of the sport they love.” 

For more information on the decline of youth sports participation go to