The last Julie Powell had heard about it, the issue of a girls soccer team at Lawrence High was a dead one.
On Thursday, Powell, an LHS junior, learned it was alive and well when she received a letter from athletic director Darrell Falen saying the Lions would indeed field a team on a limited basis this spring.
"I was surprised," said Powell, who helped head the movement that brought the issue before the high school administration. "They said they didn't have money available. They said they didn't actually have enough to do it."
"They" are members of the school board, who initially declined to fund the team saying the year's budget already had been developed.
Mark Craig, the first-year boys coach who, pending approval by the board, will also coach the girls, said the LHS brass found adequate funding within its own budget.
CHRIS BAY, the boys' junior varsity coach, will also coach the JV girls if he's approved by the board.
"Darrell put it to me and Chris," Craig said. "He said, `Here's the situation, the bare minimum. What do you want to do?' I know some coaches prefer girls to boys. I've never coached girls, but I wanted to get the program off the ground."
Craig said the girls would play a limited schedule and would borrow equipment and uniforms from the boys.
"That doesn't really matter," Powell said, "as long as we get a chance to play."
When Powell returned last summer to Lawrence after spending 3 years in Germany, she said she was disappointed to find LHS did not offer a girls team. Lawrence has long had a policy to allow girls to try out for the boys team, but few have. It is the last Sunflower League school to add the sport.
"I was on co-ed teams when I was younger," Powell said. "I know how boys play. I'm not that rough. There's a very big difference."
SO POWELL and her mother, Jill, helped arrange a group to call the issue to administration's attention.
"It came about as a result of the parents," Craig said. "There was a lot of interest. Darrell passed a signup sheet around, and there were tons of numbers. They had plenty of girls sign up. There were 21 freshmen, 12 sophomores, five juniors and 11 seniors, and that's just the ones that signed up. That's a pretty good crew."
The season begins March 1 and culminates on April 24 in the first-ever state tournament. LHS, Craig said, will be eligible for state.
"It happened just in time," he said. "They were waiting to have 24 teams, and they're well past that now. According to the National Federation News, 175 schools added girls soccer last year. There were 23,475 players in 1979 compared to 135,302 last year. It's sixth in terms of participation.
"I feel like this is the first step in bringing it up to date. Little kids, I'm sure, if they know there's a program at the high school, will start playing it."
In his letter, Falen warned the board would have to approve funding for the sport next year. But Powell, for one, is confident it will.
"I'm hoping," she said. "It should go pretty well this year."
LHS added baseball in the spring of '86 and soccer in the fall of '87.