Hayden Supporters of Hayden baseball stepped up to the plate Wednesday before the Hayden School Board.
In November, the School Board voted 4 to 1 against creating a varsity baseball team at Hayden High School, due to long-term sustainability concerns, but board members voted Wednesday to allow baseball as a junior varsity sport.
Hayden didn't field a baseball team for players older than the age of 13 until last year, when players between the ages of 14 and 17 took the field in May 2007, on a team sponsored by the American Legion. With the lack of a baseball team at Hayden High School, players also have commuted to Moffat County to play.
"A JV program still allows some of the higher-level baseball players : to go to neighboring schools," said Mike Luppes, superintendent of the Hayden School District. "It's a starting point to see where the interest levels are, and to me, it was just a good workable solution to it all."
School Board President Brian Hoza said his concern when he voted against a varsity program was that the area was not far enough along with establishing baseball as a high school sport.
"The varsity program would have come with a lot of expectations, and if it is set up this way with a JV team, we can do what is feasible with funds and weather (so) as to not be as taxing to the team and parents," he said. "All along, we have wanted to support the opportunity without having the district go too far, too fast."
The junior varsity team will play at Hayden Valley Elementary School, where the Hayden Parks and Recreation Department maintains two baseball fields. The diamonds are not up to Colorado High School Athletic Association varsity regulations, but Luppes said they are suitable for JV games.
"With a varsity team, we are a bit more limited with a schedule because you have to have a certain number of games to be eligible for post-season play," Luppes said. "With JV, I'm anticipating about eight games, and if weather doesn't cooperate, we don't have to feel the need to squeeze in a long road trip that may be canceled."
Hoza said that as a tier-2 sport, the junior varsity team won't receive any school district money and must survive on community and parent funds.
"With some of the contributions already offered in the area, it could actually bring costs down to the $50 to $100 range for each participant," he said.
Hoza previously cited a concern about complying with the federal Title IX statute, which requires schools to provide equal opportunities for male and female athletes in order to receive federal funding.
"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."
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