Finally. It happened.
On Tuesday, the Wyoming High School Activities Association voted unanimously to add softball as a high school sport in the state. The first season will be played in the spring of 2021. The vote leaves South Dakota as the only state in the U.S. to not have high school softball as a sanctioned sport.
I’ve often spoken about my love of the sport. I’ve played softball since I was just a little kid. I played on travel teams in the Midwest and for my high school in Ohio. When faced with the prospect of giving up the sport in college, I couldn’t stand the idea. So, I begged the coaches at Northwestern University to let me try out for the team. I walked on as a Wildcat and couldn’t imagine a better softball career.
I wasn’t the best player on the team. But being a part of a team that competed at that caliber and with that level of intensity made me who I am today. I am stronger, more focused and a better team player.
I wouldn’t have dreamed a college softball career possible were it not for playing the sport in high school.
Softball is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. You can see that in television ratings statistics — the 2017 Women’s College World Series two-game series between Oklahoma and Florida averaged 1.72 million viewers. According to Marketwatch, that’s more viewers than ESPN had on average for Major League Baseball games on Monday nights.
In college, I coached softball for girls between 11-12 years old. After wrapping up my own softball season with Northwestern, the idea of coaching all summer felt like the best way to spend my summer. I never wanted softball season to end.
Now, girls across the state of Wyoming will have that same opportunity. I know some efforts have started in Sheridan to create more competitive softball programs through travel and club teams. I’ve been part of some of that and I’m eager to see where they go.
Sheridan schools were not among the ranks of those districts that have voted to add softball as a sport, but I hope that will soon change.
As the Sheridan Recreation District and club programs work to boost interest in the sport, high school programs will follow. Play ball!