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District may add softball

Brent Boyer

Sparked by interest from a group of high school girls and their parents, the Steamboat Springs School District may authorize the creation of a fast-pitch softball team to begin play this fall.

The School Board gave preliminary approval to the idea at its study session Monday, during which parent Loretta Hammerslag presented the basis for the team.

“There isn’t a softball team for that age,” Hammerslag said. Fourteen girls attended a meeting last week to gauge interest in the sport, she said.

“They just want to get it off the ground this year,” Hammerslag said.

School Board members were receptive to the idea. Board member Tami Havener said the district doesn’t have enough female sports.

“Go for it,” she told Hammerslag.

“I think this is a great idea, and we should move forward,” School Board President Paula Stephenson said. She indicated the School Board would be ready to approve a contract with team organizers at the board meeting next week.

But Superintendent Donna Howell said contractual issues could delay final School Board approval of the team.

The team would be classified as a Tier II sport, meaning it must fund itself. The district, as it does with other Tier II sports, would contribute only the administrative services of Athletics Director Richard Lee.

“There’s quite a bit involved in putting that contract together,” Howell said Wednesday. “I hope they can pull it together, but we have to be consistent with contractual obligations with all Tier II sports.”

Other district Tier II sports are golf, hockey, lacrosse, cheerleading, baseball and tennis. Sports funded by the district — Tier I sports — are football, cross country, track and field, basketball, wrestling, soccer and dance.

A preliminary budget presented to the School Board by the softball group estimates per-player costs to be about $125. Lee said those estimates, which include uniform, equipment and field costs, might be a little low.

Scheduling also could be an obstacle in getting the team organized to play this fall. Five of the six Western Slope League fastpitch softball teams have full schedules already, Lee said.

Still, he and others think starting the team this year will set it up for future success.

“I think they can have a good introductory season,” Lee said.

Steamboat Springs High School junior Kirsten Ryan is one of the girls interested in playing on the team. Ryan, who moved to Steamboat from California before her freshman year, grew up playing softball and has experienced first-hand the limited opportunities for local girls who want to play competitively.

Ryan said she’s heard from many girls who are interested in playing on the team. She acknowledged the first season may be difficult because “half our team has never played softball before.”

But it will be fun for everyone to learn the fundamentals of the game and be ready for a successful second season in 2005, Ryan said.

If approved by the School Board, the team will need a qualified coach, Lee said. Anyone interested in the position can call him at 879-1562.

— To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com


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