CHEYENNE – The movement to have fastpitch softball sanctioned by the Wyoming High School Activities Association quickly gained momentum during the fall before stalling this winter.
The sport currently has seven of the eight teams it needs before the WHSAA will approve it.
Softball supporters across the Equality State hope Laramie County School District 1 and its three high schools push softball over the threshold. Adding the sport has been discussed in the Capital City.
“We’re looking at a number of different issues, but the bottom line is what’s going to be best for the kids,” Cheyenne East athletics director Jerry Schlabs said. “Hopefully, we have a clearer picture of that in the coming weeks and months.”
LCSD1 is counting on a survey it distributed to students Wednesday to provide some clarity. The LCSD1 activities council will examine the results of the survey before deciding whether to bring softball to the school board for a vote, LCSD1 assistant superintendent of instruction Tracey Kinney said.
“We would look at what the organization of that extra sport requires, analyze the placement of the new sport in relation to balancing out Title IX equity issues and take those recommendations to the school board,” she said.
Cheyenne Extreme under-18 coach Adam Galicia isn’t sure the survey is going to accurately represent softball interest because of the way it was formatted.
The survey lists the sports and activities the WHSAA currently offers, and students can check whether they have experience in the activity, are currently involved in the activity, interested in participating in the activity in high school or interested in participating in the activity in college.
Below that list is a box where students are asked if there is an extracurricular activity or sport not listed that they would like LCSD1 to consider.
“The grade school and middle school girls are most likely going to focus on what they see in front of them, and not even going to think to write softball in,” Galicia said. “I had girls texting me throughout (Wednesday) saying the friends they talked to didn’t think to write anything in.
“When we talked with the school district and the (athletics directors), they said they would put out a survey about softball, and this survey doesn’t even mention softball. It should have been with the check boxes at a minimum.”
Galicia and other stakeholders in the city’s softball community met with LCSD1’s activities council in late 2018. Prior to that meeting, Galicia gathered numbers from his organization and the City of Cheyenne recreational league in an effort to show how much interest there might be among high school-age girls.
“We had 89 girls,” he told KFBC radio’s Sports Zone on May 1. “The numbers are there.”
The earliest softball would be added by the WHSAA would be the 2020-21 school year, Cheyenne South athletics director Mark Puev said.
“WHSAA bylaws dictate that we have to wait until a re-class year to add a sport,” he said. “The sport has to go through several readings at the WHSAA, so there is plenty of time to make a decision.”
Both Puev and Schlabs have been approached by a few girls who expressed interest in adding softball. Both men say they support the sport.
“I want success and an opportunity for every one of our kids,” Puev said. “Athletics teaches kids a lot of life lessons, and means a lot to them. I want those experiences for everyone.”
Because the WHSAA prohibits athletes from representing both their school and a club team simultaneously, the addition of prep softball would push the start of the club season back from April to June. That’s OK with Cheyenne’s club softball community, Galicia said.
“Most of our younger teams don’t start until the middle of May anyway, and the meat of our (under-18) season is Memorial Day through July,” he told KFBC’s Sports Zone. “We don’t care if it pushes the start of our season back, because it’s not like they won’t be picking up a softball before they start practicing with us.”
Cheyenne has been unfairly cast as opposing the high school softball movement in the state, Galicia said.
“Extreme has taken a lot of criticism because people say we’re trying to hold things up, and we’re not,” he told KFBC. “That softball letter would mean an awful lot to the girls who play for us.
“The rest of the state is waiting for Cheyenne to get on board. (Extreme) is not against it. We would love to see softball in the high schools. All it can do is make softball better in Cheyenne.”