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CITY OF OCONOMOWOC — The Oconomowoc Area School District will take over youth football operations in 2018, and the Oconomowoc Youth Football program will cease operations at the end of this year.

Beginning in the fall of 2018, the school district will manage football operations for seventh and eighth graders, according to a news release from the district. The district also will partner with the YMCA of Pabst Farms and the city of Oconomowoc Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to offer flag football for fifth and sixth graders.

“As we transition into the Classic 8 Conference, it provides us the opportunity to better ensure program consistency and continuity in an education-based setting," said Oconomowoc High School athletic director Kevin Flegner. "It also comes at a time when programs everywhere, and at all levels, are taking greater steps regarding player safety.”

Under the new program, seventh- and eighth-grade students will play for their home intermediate school, the news release said. Practices will be held immediately after school. All home games will be held at Oconomowoc High School's Rux Stadium.

The new structure means the youth football program could elect to offer only flag football for fifth and sixth grade in 2018, though the precise structure remains under evaluation. Under the OYF construct, those grade levels participated in tackle football (flag football has been offered by the Oconomowoc Recreation Department).

In 2015, OHS asked that OYF discontinue tackle football at those age levels, citing safety concerns, as a contingency to continue using the OHS athletic fields. Ultimately, the OYF elected to play its games elsewhere.

The OYF will continue to operate as it has in 2017.

School administration will supervise coaches, and program oversight will come from the high school football staff, the release said. All coaches will have CPR, First Aid, and AED training. All non-staff coaches will be given background checks, and all coaches will be evaluated annually.

According to the news release, OASD will work with Oconomowoc Youth Football during the 2017 season to ensure a smooth transition. During the next few months, the district will be working to develop the new program.

Gary Wipperman, the president of Oconomowoc Youth Football, confirmed on Tuesday that OYF will cease operations after the 2017 season. That decision is pending membership approval at the OYF annual meeting on Feb. 16, he said.

“This is a bittersweet day for our leadership team, our coaches and our families,” Wipperman said in the release. “While we are sad to mark the end of Oconomowoc Youth Football, we know our youth are in good hands, and we offer our best wishes for success to Kevin Flegner, OASD athletic director, and Ryan McMillen, OHS head football coach.

"They have a vision for the future of Oconomowoc football and we support them fully in this endeavor.”

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