Board members of Laramie Girls Softball asked Laramie High School this week to commit to offering softball as a high school sport.
The proposal came a day after the Wyoming High School Athletic Association board of directors voted to sanction softball once eight high schools sign letters of support to join the program.
The Wyoming High School Activities Association sanctioned an equal number of sports for boys and girls until 2010, when support for gymnastics was cut amid dwindling participation statewide.
In order for WHSAA to sanction another girl’s sport, at least eight schools would need to participate.
Three school districts have already signed letters of support — Rock Springs, Cody and Green River.
Gillette, Casper and Cheyenne are currently considering signing their own letters.
Laramie Girls Softball board member Nick Hauser told the Albany County School District No. 1 school board that the “growing excitement” surrounding possible state sanctioning is helping to get more girls interested in playing softball longer.
“It’s a trickle-down and a trickle-up effect and we’re really feeling that positivity from the community,” he said.
Currently, the participation in Laramie Girls Softball teams drops off significantly once girls reach 13.
The fact that LHS doesn’t offer the sport probably exacerbates that, Hauser said.
“That’s when girls are deciding to choose specific sports or looking ahead to what’s available in high school,” he said.
Wyoming and South Dakota are the only states to not have softball as a state-sanctioned sport.
If LHS were to start offering softball, Laramie Girls Softball estimates it would cost a little under $50,000 in the sport’s first year, with costs typically under $30,000 in subsequent years.
About half of the annual costs would be coaches’ stipends. However, Laramie Girls Softball board members said they’d want to do as much fundraising as possible to limit the costs on the school district.
Marty McKinney, president of Laramie Girls Softball, said that he and board member Jason Pacheco would also be happy to coach for free.
“If there was a way for you to not pay us in order to keep the costs down, both of of us would volunteer our time,” McKinney said. “If it was a high school sport, Laramie Girls Softball would certainly donate some money.”
Laramie Girls Softball was formed in 2008 and organizes competitive fast-pitch teams that compete throughout Wyoming and Colorado.
The prominence and participation in the teams have increased greatly in the past decade.
The organization first competed in the state tournament in 2016. In 2018, the state tournament first offered competition for girls 8-and-under. The Laramie 8U was won the inaugural competition.
LGS currently offers teams for five different age groups, with 140-170 girls typically participating each year.
LGS plans to join a non-sanctioned Fall Ball pilot program this fall. High school teams from Gillette, Casper, Rock Springs and Worland are already participating in the private league.