What a frustrating weekend in the world of youth baseball/softball in my town. We are ramping up for the beginning of the youth baseball and softball seasons. First, a little background...My 2 daughters played softball in the league last season. My youngest played her third season in the 7-9 league. I've coached that team each of those years. My older daughter played in the 10-12 league. I was the assistant coach of that team. After the season, my older daughter decided that she didn't want to play this year. My younger daughter expressed interest in playing baseball instead of softball this season - but she didn't want to be the only girl playing with the boys. I had tried to put together a girls baseball team for this spring season and had about 8 girls committed to play. I approached the 9-10 baseball league in town about having this team play with them. However, I was told that while any girl who wants to play baseball should be able to, they cannot come in as a team and each would need to be placed in the draft withe the rest of the players. That makes sense since they should all be treated the same. I then explored the idea of an independent team without any league affiliation. However, I ran out of time trying to work out the challenges associated with this idea - who we would play against, field usage, insurance, uniforms, etc. So, rather than just sign up to play in the 9-10 baseball league herself and be the only girl on her team, my daughter decided to stick with softball for one more season. I had originally planned to move her up to 10-12, but gave her the option to stay down one more year and I would coach her there again.
Fast forward to this past Thursday, where I was informed that only 17 girls had signed up to play softball in the 7-9 league - not even enough for 2 teams. This gave me pause. However, the next day, I was informed that the local baseball committee was thinking about merging the 17 girls into the 7-8 baseball league! I was pumped for a few reasons. First, my daughter could now play baseball and not be the only girl. Second, this was the perfect age for the girls to have the opportunity to play baseball. They could then decide after that league whether they wanted to continue with baseball or play softball. If it happened, I would also be able to coach one of the teams. Well, over the next 24 hours many phone calls and emails were exchanged. A phone poll of the 17 girls' parents was even conducted to get their feelings on the league merger. Results were very positive with 9 in favor, 4 unavailable to respond, 3 not sure, and 1 not in favor. However, in the end, it was decided by the powers that be (still not really sure who made the final decision), that they would not be allowing the girls to play baseball. My daughter and I were disappointed as were some of the other girls' parents. One parent was very disappointed and told me that she had originally tried to sign her daughter up for baseball and was told "NO". I told her that they could not prevent her from playing baseball and that she should be able to sign up and be placed in the baseball draft like anyone else. She then contacted the very close-minded and ignorant head of the baseball committee who told her that her daughter would never play baseball in our town and that she should take her to play in a neighboring town! Wow! Nice guy, huh? Needless to say, she is not giving up. Thanks to Tiff here on CheckSwing who provided me with several useful links that I then forwarded to this parent. It appears that the committee is saying that Title IX does not apply to them since they are a private organization. We'll see how this plays out. What I don't understand is this... Why would you tell someone, a child, "NO, you cannot play baseball?"
Back to the 7-9 softball league problem. Instead of allowing these girls to play in the baseball league, they were now going to field 2 teams and try to get games with other towns. To make matters worse, I was also informed that I would not be one of the 2 coaches. I have coached a team in this league the past 3 seasons. Its not about winning at this age, but I had taught and developed my players to love the game and and play it right. As a consequence they won 2 straight championships - losing only one game in the past 2 seasons. Again, I don't point this out to make it about winning at this age. I only mention it to show how the kids developed, improved, and had fun. They paid attention and were always ready. I had many parents ask me to try to coach their daughters in the next age bracket. To now be told that I would not have one of the teams is not in the best interest of the kids. Given all of this, I decided to just move my daughter up to the next league. (She had actually played 10 games in the older league last year, filling in on her sister's team, and did very well.)
At this point, I figured the saga was over. Little did I know, the "committee" would want to vote on whether they would allow my daughter to move up (since she doesn't turn 10 until November). Given all of the above, I figured they would do what was in the best interest of my daughter and be fine with it. Well, I just found out only hours ago, they decided against it. Now, if I was still a coach in the 10-12 league, she could move up automatically. But since I thought she was going to stay down, I had given up my spot in that league. I was unaware at the time I did that that there would be so many issues with the younger league. Sooooo, now I'm upset and not sure what I'm going to do. I'm very frustrated that the "powers that be" are standing in the way of what's best for these kids.