With wrestling practice nearing an end, Nilven Ramos appeared to be exhausted.
But the 5-foot, 7-inch, 116-pound York Tech grappler didn't let up. He kept pushing until he heard a whistle that signaled completion of practice and a much-needed water break.
Ramos doesn't mind the hard work. Heck, he's just glad he's able to continue wrestling this season.
It was back in March when Ramos found out through a friend that York High had cut its wrestling program -- the same program Ramos had been wrestling in for the past three seasons. He's a student at New Hope Charter School in York, but the school doesn't have a wrestling team of its own, so he wrestled at York High.
"I was like 'My wrestling career is done. Where am I gonna go wrestle?' My school didn't have a wrestling team," Ramos said.
Ramos would be in luck, though. He found out he could continue his wrestling career -- with another school.
The opportunity was made possible through a cooperative agreement between York Tech and York High. If their own school drops a sports program, a cooperative agreement allows student-athletes to continue to attend their current school but participate on a sports program at another school.
Cuts: In addition to its wrestling program, York High also eliminated its softball program this year. The high school also saved money by closing its pool, although their swimmers still compete at other locations.
And York High isn't alone in drawing back on its athletic budget this year. Dallastown eliminated gymnastics and winter track, which affected 130 students.
While some high schools have cut sports programs, others are trying to stay afloat using forms of pay to play, including three in York County. Dover, Red Land and York Suburban each introduced an activity fee, or a form of pay to play, for the first time this year. The fees range from $25 to $50.
Co-op: As it has done with other schools since the 2008-09 school year, York Tech has swooped in again this season, allowing kids a way to keep playing the sport they love without actually transferring to the school.
The school made a cooperative agreement for York High students to compete on York Tech's wrestling team for the first time this year.
Ramos is one of three students who previously wrestled for York High and are competing for York Tech this season.
York Tech isn't new to such arrangements. York Country Day and York Catholic students have been competing on York Tech's wrestling team for a few seasons through a cooperative agreement.
York Tech has an even larger cooperative agreement in place with York Country Day. Those schools first started working together in the 2008-09 school year, when one York Country Day student began competing for York Tech in track and cross country and two others competed in girls' softball.
The cooperative agreement has grown over the years. In addition to track, cross country and softball, the schools now compete together in baseball, wrestling, golf, cheerleading, girls' volleyball, football, bowling, field hockey, soccer, tennis and girls' basketball.
Lessons: Rebecca Ream was one of those two softball players from York Country Day who competed for York Tech in 2009. Ream, now a senior, also competes in basketball and golf.
And had it not been for the co-op, Ream says she might have lost out on some valuable lessons.
"Playing basketball has definitely helped me learn how to communicate better with people and work with others," Ream said. "Basketball is a team sport. And with golf, it's taught me how to do things on my own."
Ramos feels the same with wrestling.
"(Wrestling) teaches me a lot about discipline. It keeps my head on straight," he said. "And I really like the feeling of being on a team. We're like a family."
Other sports: As for York High swimmers, they have continued to compete at various locations despite the school closing its pool this year.
Cuts to other programs likely won't have a negative impact on students. York High got rid of its softball program because of little interest in the sport from students.
At Dallastown, just three seniors competed in the gymnastics program a year ago. So, it remains to be seen if Dallastown students would have had much interest in the sport anyway. Plus, most gymnasts have the opportunity to compete year-round for club organizations.
And students who competed in winter track for Dallastown can still run track for the school in the spring.
-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.