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Let's not give up on the idea of high school softball

Feb 14, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine Staff Writer

The Fremont County School District 25 Board of Trustees should be applauded for considering whether to implement girls softball as a high school sport in Wyoming.

As we reported last week, the board nixed the plan that would have committed Riverton to playing in a spring high school softball league if at least seven other schools also approved the idea.

The main reason for the board's negative response to spring softball was that in Gillette, for example, where there are well more than 1,000 girls walking the halls of their two high school campuses, there are plenty of girls to add a third spring sport to the athletic calender. Riverton, by contrast, has fewer than 350 girls in grades 9-12 (and only one campus, by the way). Lander has even fewer.

The board made the right choice. Having softball in the spring would impact Lady Wolverine girls soccer and track and field negatively.

But the idea for high school softball is a good one, and the board's work shouldn't end with a single negative vote.

More girls in Riverton would play softball if it were organized by, and affiliated with, Riverton High School and the Wyoming High School Activities Association.

And the best news is that there are college softball scholarships available for quality girl players.

With some creative work and thought, both a high school league and Amateur Softball Association leagues could co-exist in Wyoming.

Years and years ago, Little League Baseball tried hard to make it difficult for programs to co-exist. For example, prior to 2007, a coach could not lead a Little League tournament team and simultaneously coach another traveling team in a non-Little League sanctioned event. And it was difficult for players to play in Little League and other leagues at the same time.

Now Little League has relaxed some of its rules regarding participating in non-sanctioned leagues, and baseball is better for it.

In the summer, ASA has most of its tournaments on weekends. That leaves weekdays for high school practice and play. The WHSAA would have to get creative and allow girls to play in both non-high school sanctioned leagues and a sanctioned high school program.

Upper-echelon players could still get together on weekends to play in elite softball events.

And, there is no reason why the District 25 recreation board could not annually add fiscal support to a summer high school softball program that would add a bit to the school district's athletic and activities budget.

Why give up so fast? Let's not let this idea die. Supporters of Tonkin Stadium worked for years trying to improve and then save the old field for high shool football.

True, that effort didn't work, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Achieving the goal of having high school softball in Wyoming will take more than just liking a Facebook page or one school district vote.

Keep after it. Get creative. Trustee Mark Stone is right. Having high school softball in Wyoming would benefit our girls.

Our headline said the idea "struck out."

Really, the count is just 1-1.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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