Friday, November 16, 2007
Hayden There's no joy in Hayden - Tigers baseball has struck out.
The Hayden School Board voted 4 to 1 Wednesday night to deny adding baseball as a school sport, due to long-term sustainability concerns.
"It was a really difficult situation, because there's a lot of support involved with a group of kids that did a great job of expression in starting a program," said School Board President Brian Hoza, who voted against the proposal.
Hayden didn't field a baseball team for players older than the age of 13 until this summer, when 14 players between the ages of 14 and 17 took the field in May on a team sponsored by the American Legion.
"That American Legion team wanted to move over to a high school status, but it came down to a financial situation with other things on our docket, like our vocational building," Hoza said.
Board member Kurt Frentress was the proposal's lone supporter.
Hayden School District Superintendent Mike Luppes said the district's financial constraints were too much, despite the community's support of baseball.
"It was going to be set up in a similar fashion to Steamboat Springs High School's tier-two sports," he said. In tier-two sports, such as hockey and tennis in Steamboat, parents pay a fee for the student to participate.
"Obviously, we would have liked the School District to pay for the program," Luppes said. "But I didn't think it was something we could do."
Another concern for district officials is whether declining enrollment in Hayden schools could support a competitive team in the future.
"The American Legion team was a senior-dominated program," he said. "They had a solid one year to get established, but I didn't see long-term sustainability."
A Hayden High School baseball team would have played most of its games in Craig. There are no regulation baseball fields in Hayden.
Hoza said the American Legion team's manager, Wayne DeLuca, volunteered to coach the team.
"They had a willingness to share resources, and parents would be responsible for transportation," said Hoza. "But we don't know how long it would have been reasonable to expect that out of them."
Complying with the Federal Title IX statue, which requires schools to provide equal opportunities for male and female athletes to receive federal funding, was also a concern.
"We would have added an additional women's sport with Title IX to balance it," he said. "It's hard to set things up and not follow through at the level we'd like to with the funding."
The American Legion team will carry on, Hoza said, and he expects baseball supporters to address the board again next year.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they had another year or two of success, and we had the enrollment numbers and financial stability, having baseball at the school is something we'd come back to in the future," he said.