CHEYENNE – The Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees voted Monday night to add girls fast-pitch softball to its athletics offerings next school year.
As the board unanimously said “aye” to approve softball, the room erupted in cheers and clapping from softball supporters. They wore the neon yellow shirts of the Cheyenne Extreme club softball league that said “Let them play,” and after the approval, the supporters went around and shook the board members’ hands.
This adds LCSD1 to the list of school districts that have adopted high school softball in Wyoming.
It comes a month after Albany County School District 1 trustees voted to add softball as a sport at Laramie High School, making it the eighth district to approve it and triggering the Wyoming High Schools Activities Association to sanction the sport.
Softball will be sanctioned for high-schoolers starting in 2021. The sport is anticipated to cost LCSD1 $135,000 annually, and any transportation costs will be covered by the activities association because it is a sanctioned sport.
The program will establish softball teams Cheyenne’s Central, East and South high schools.
The board room was overwhelmingly filled with yellow, and several people spoke Monday in support of the board adopting the sport.
Adam Galicia, head coach for the Cheyenne Extreme, said he wished the softball community was included more in the discussions about adding the sport to high school athletics.
He said he was speaking to the board as a father, representing his daughter, who is a softball player.
“We know nothing is free, but money should not be a showstopper to adding high school softball as a sport in Cheyenne,” he said.
He asked the board to look at adding softball as an opportunity for girls to have college scholarship and leadership opportunities. Four of his former players are now softball coaches, and he said it also means a lot for girls to be able to wear varsity letters and school colors for playing softball.
His daughter, Ariana Galicia, said adding the sport to schools would give girls who couldn’t afford to pay to participate in the softball club sport an opportunity to play it in school.
She’s been playing softball her entire life, she said, and softball helps shape young people into good citizens and all types of leaders.
“Softball’s taught me how to overcome many tough things in my life,” she said. “One thing we talk about in softball a lot is even if we’re not 100% that day, we give 100% of what we have.”
Ariana said she knows many of her friends would love to play softball, but for various reasons can’t afford it. High school softball would give them the opportunity, and everyone deserves that opportunity, she said.
Several other parents and students spoke in support of adopting softball as a high school sport at the meeting.
When asked how she felt after the board adopted the sport, Ariana said it felt “unreal.”
“It’s pretty emotionally for me,” Adam Galicia said. “This is something we’ve been working on since my older daughter was a junior at (East), so since 2010 or 2011, it’s been hit and miss. I’m so happy right now; I’m happy she’ll get her opportunity.”
Ariana will be a senior in 2021, and she said she’s glad she was there to speak for the younger girls who don’t understand yet. She said this decision will give them the opportunity to enjoy softball for their entire high school career.
Board members Nate Breen and Rose Ann Million Rinne said they had concerns related to the budget and funding, but ultimately voted to adopt softball.
Rinne went on to say she thought it was important for girls to have this opportunity in school and to keep young women engaged with athletics.
“The topic of softball has been on our radar for a while, and we weren’t hearing from the public,” said board chairwoman Marguerite Herman. “I must say, I’m very glad the advocates turned out tonight. I think they did a really good job making their case for the benefit to the young women.”
Herman said the district answered the question of equity, finances and interest before the board approved it. The board also didn’t just “rubber stamp” the decision, and did a lot of soul-searching and decision making before approving softball.
LCSD1 Superintendent Boyd Brown said he was impressed by the young ladies who are interested in participating in high school softball and who spoke at the meeting about leadership.
Now girls will have the same number of athletic opportunities as boys do in the district, Brown said.