NORTH READING — The School Committee last week approved a request to hire a freshmen volleyball coach.

Superintendent of Schools Jon Bernard said Athletic Director Dave Johnson reached out to eighth grade students about participating in high school sports last spring. He said Johnson reported to the Athletic Subcommittee recently that the volleyball sign-ups that took place in the spring were “larger” than anticipated.

“There are 30 students who have expressed interest in volleyball,” said Bernard. “That number is likely to grow.”

Bernard noted the high school has traditionally offered two levels of volleyball and featured over 20 students. He said the high school had a freshmen volleyball program during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years.

School Committee Vice Chairman Mel Webster, who serves on the Athletic Subcommittee, said the request is contingent on the number of volleyball participants.

“We had to cut several girls last year,” said Webster. “And the problem is if you cut freshmen, they don’t come back out again and you are losing the future of the program.”

Webster said if a freshmen coach is hired, the volleyball team will not need to cut any players. He also noted the school department’s athletic fees will cover the cost of the coach.

“If you have a freshmen team with 12 kids on it, you are going to collect between $4,000 and $5,000, which will cover the cost of the coach,” Webster explained.

Track coaches needed

Webster also said the high school’s track teams need another coach but the Athletic Subcommittee will not be bringing this request forward just yet.

According to Webster, the winter and spring tracks feature a large number of athletes, with the spring team featuring 100 student athletes. He said there are currently three track coaches and adding another coach will allow the track teams to send athletes to JV meets.

“We might be able to get a group of students to participate (in JV meets) because right now they are practicing really hard but they don’t always get the chance to compete at every meet,” said Webster.