NORTH LIBERTY — The new Liberty High School will sponsor varsity teams in 14 sports next year, Principal Scott Kibby said Thursday.
Those sports do not include football, which will be freshman and sophomore levels only until the following year. Liberty opens its doors in August 2017.
Kibby is in the process of hiring his first teachers and hopes to have that part of his extensive initial job completed by spring break.
“You want to find people who are excited to be here,” he said. “You want people who are excited to build that culture, to be a part of that. That’s one of the things that attracted me to this job from West to Liberty. To build that culture. That won’t happen overnight. That will be a process as we go.”
Kibby left his position as activities director at Iowa City West to become Liberty principal and said he hopes enrollment for the first school year will be in the 700s, a number he will know for certain when registration for the 2017-18 school year is conducted the first week of January.
He knows for sure he will have 250 freshmen and 250 sophomores. Juniors and seniors who live in the district can move to the new school or remain where they are (mostly likely West) until they graduate.
The school will accept open enrollees but those students who live in the district and decide to open enroll at another school would not be eligible for varsity athletics competition for one year.
“It’s so amazing. Overwhelming, yeah,” Kibby said. “It’s kind of all over the place. What do I mean? I’m going to do hiring today. Next Wednesday, i’ll go to a (Mississippi Valley Conference) meeting because I’m still acting in that MVC role. I’ll do my athletic director stuff next Wednesday. Yesterday, I was meeting with a furniture guy. We’re putting stools and chairs and desks in ... Just kind of all over the map now. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time on the curricular part of it. You do the public relations piece, too. You are a little bit of everything right now.”
Liberty’s nickname is the Lightning, with its school colors primarily silver and purple. It is sponsoring eight freshman sports this school year: football, volleyball, girls’ and boys’ basketball, girls’ and boys’ soccer, baseball and softball.
“We thought that was a good transition model,” he said.
Next year, Liberty will have varsity programs in volleyball, girls’ and boys’ cross country, boys’ golf (fall), girls’ and boys’ basketball, wrestling, girls’ and boys’ soccer, girls’ and boys’ track and field, girls’ golf (spring), baseball and softball. It will serve its first year as an independent, not joining the MVC until the 2018-19 school year, and will immediately be eligible for all IHSAA and IGHSAU tournaments.
Other than a gymnasium, the school does not have any athletics facilities, their construction dependent upon an upcoming local bond vote. That’s why the school will not immediately sponsor varsity tennis, swimming and bowling teams.
Kibby has found temporary homes for all of his sports teams. For instance, the freshman and sophomore football teams will use West’s field next year.
The freshmen will play in the CRANDIC (Cedar Rapids and Iowa City) league, the sophomores likely against Class 2A and 3A schools because 4A schools host sophomore-varsity double-headers on Friday nights.
Both the IHSAA and IGHSAU have given all of their member schools waivers to go over the 21-game limit for boys’ and girls’ basketball in order to help Liberty create varsity schedules next year. Kibby said he hopes to have a dean of students, associate principal and activities director hired sometime in the spring.
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