By Daniel Paulling
The YAIAA approved Gettysburg’s petition to join last week, welcome news to two former board members who were part of a vote against the measure in the late 1990s. Former board vice president Dale Biesecker recalled the vote being either 8-1 or 7-2 with him voting to leave the Mid-Penn.
He remembered one Gettysburg team having to travel to State College for an event last fall, which seemed too far away. He wanted the athletes not to miss so much class time.
“Some of these games, the kids leave a couple hours before school’s out,” Biesecker said. “The big thing is that we got to have our kids at school because of all the (standardized) tests and stuff. If you’re taking the kids out of school for an hour or two, we’re defeating the purpose.”
Entering the meeting in the late 1990s, he said the board’s mood was to leave the Mid-Penn in favor of the YAIAA, which is filled with closer schools. Some last-minute politicking changed that.
“We had some people who had a dream that Gettysburg would become state champions,” Biesecker said. “The deal was, the best I could explain it, the bigger schools you played, the more points you got toward the championship. Consequently, there were people who convinced the board members to vote to stay in the Mid-Penn league.
“I would say, my personal opinion, a lot of it was coaches. They had this foresight we were going to be a state champion in a number of sports.”
Pat Symmes, who was the president at the time, said the issue of leaving had been raised off and on for about 10 years and that the desire to leave was split about 50-50. She also recalled coaches arguing for staying when the measure was last presented to the board.
“You’d hear the position from the coaches, mostly football, that we need to stay here so kids can be seen and get scholarships,” she said. “I never believed that. You can get a scholarship wherever you play football.
“I frankly am happy they’re doing this. One of the concerns we always had as being board members was when the kids would have to leave school to go play. The further away, the most class time that they missed.”