Steamboat Springs Bolstered by the support of the Steamboat Springs School Board and the efforts of a dedicated parent, a high school fastpitch softball team appears closer to fruition.
On Monday, the School Board gave Superintendent Donna Howell the authority to sign a contract between the district and the potential team. Sixteen girls showed up to practice for the team Tuesday morning.
"We'd love to see this get off the ground this year," School Board President Paula Stephenson said at the board's Monday meeting. "It's a great sport to add. We're all 100 percent behind it."
On Tuesday, parent Donna Ryan took the first steps toward securing Colorado nonprofit status for the team, which the district said is a requirement before it will sign a contract allowing softball to become an official sport.
Fastpitch softball would be classified as a Tier II sport for the district, meaning it's completely self-funded. In past years, the district has donated the administrative services of the high school athletic director, but budget constraints forced it last year to begin charging Tier II sports $800 each for those services.
Mike Holloran, an attorney for the school district, said having Tier II sports establish themselves as nonprofit corporations eliminates the pressure of one parent bearing the responsibility of operating a team and also allows for continuity as players and families graduate from the program and new ones come in to take their place.
"It has been very successful," Holloran said.
Once the team obtains nonprofit status, it will have to submit a budget to the district, Howell said. The district would then enter into a contract with the team.
"They are not recognized as an official sport until that contract is signed," Howell said.
Ryan, whose daughter Kirsten is one of the 16 girls interested in playing high school softball, has spearheaded the effort to form the district's first fastpitch team. She is optimistic the details will be worked out in time to file a team roster with the Colorado High School Activities Association by Sept. 3, which will allow the team to potentially compete in end-of-season playoffs.
"It looks like we're well on our way," Ryan said. "It will be a good trial year for us."
Ryan doubts the team will be able to schedule the 10 games it originally hoped for, but any competition will be a good foundation on which to build the team for future years, she said.
Howell said the district is supportive of the team for several reasons, including the positive impact sports have in student academic achievement.
"Although they're fairly late for a fall sport, we'll do whatever we can to help them," she said.
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