CHEYENNE – It’s been 15 years since the Wyoming High School Activities Association added a new high school sport to its list.
Indoor track – which had been contesting state championships as a school-affiliated club sport – was officially sanctioned starting with the 2006 season. On Monday, the first official practices were held for softball, the newest addition to high school sports in Wyoming.
“We’re part of history right now,” Cheyenne Central coach Carrie Barker said. “And we keep telling that to the girls. ‘This is something that’s really special and you guys get to be a part of that. You get to be the very first Central softball team, and that’s kind of big deal.’”
There will be only one classification in the state, and it will be Class 4A. There will be 13 schools split between East and West conferences in that class. The East conference will include Campbell County, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Thunder Basin and Wheatland. Members of the West will be Cody, Green River, Kelly Walsh, Natrona County, Rock Springs and Worland. The top four teams from each conference will advance to the state tournament.
Adam Galicia, who has been the coach of the Cheyenne Extreme softball program going on 15 years, has been flirting with the idea of trying to get softball included in high school sports since around 2009.
With the Extreme and WYCO Academy club organizations having limited options to play their games in town and being forced to regularly travel, Galicia emphasized that the addition is going to be a great opportunity for the community to watch the sport grow.
“We rarely get to play games in Cheyenne with the Extreme,” Galicia said. “Everything is traveling. So to be able to play games in town, it’ll be fun and exciting for families and grandparents to have the opportunity to watch when maybe they only get one chance to watch during the (club) season.”
In the spring season, there were only two sports that girls had the opportunity to compete in prior to softball: soccer and track and field. The newest addition will provide a fresh opportunity for players who want to experience a new sport.
“What’s really good about it, too, is it’s not like I’ve stolen a bunch of soccer players or track athletes,” South coach Curtis Quigley said.
“We’re still doing what’s best for kids, and we want kids to compete and do the things they want to do, but we’re not being cannibalistic in a way that we’re vulturing from other programs, and it’s awesome to see all these new faces who are out here now competing in a spring sport.”
One thing that is going to be different for the players of their respective club teams is that they’re not necessarily used to playing against their teammates. With members spread across all three schools, now it’ll be familiar faces in an unfamiliar setting.
“It’s going to be really fun and pretty interesting,” Central middle infielder Jayden Gashler said. “We’re all pretty competitive people, but we’ve known each other for most of our lives. The softball community in Cheyenne is pretty small, so everyone who is playing, we have a pretty good idea of who people are.”
The process has been long-awaited, and the anticipation has continued to grow for the softball community. But now the wait is finally over.
“It’s really exciting. It’s been such a long process trying to get softball into the schools,” East senior Ariana Galicia said. “I know that I personally have, and a few of the other girls on the team went to the school board meetings and tried to persuade them to get it done, and now we get to show everyone in Cheyenne what softball really is.”