High school sports programs can be expensive. From the cost of coaches to the price of buses for transportation, the costs can add up quickly. Especially with the current economic conditions, some sports programs are being forced to cut back. For South’s softball program, that means cutting a team this year.
“We don’t have enough money to pay for more coaches for a B-squad,” said senior captain Emily Mann. “There’s not enough money in general.” In past years, according to Mann, there have been three teams — varsity, junior varsity, and B-squad. But this year, the program is being forced to cut the B-squad due to budgetary reasons. As a result, the junior varsity team is quite large, with over twenty players.
The varsity team, in comparison, only has about fifteen players. Sophomore Jordan Gregerson, a varsity player that was recently moved up from the JV team, said that she is concerned about the amount of playing time being equal for all players on the JV team. Maddie Taleen, also a sophomore, mentioned that she is concerned that, in the future, not as many girls will try out due to the limited amount of playing time for JV players.
Athletic Director Mark Sanders confirmed that money was certainly an issue when deciding whether or not to cut the B-squad. He said that because the Minneapolis Public School district only pays for two teams, varsity and JV, the B-squad has been financed solely by fundraising in past years. This year, the team will be able to use the profits of that fundraising for other purposes, including going on a trip to Nicollet, Minnesota, in late April, as Gregerson mentioned.
Sanders commented that while money is always a concern, the decision was also affected by the number of girls on the B-squad last year. “The main reason is that the last few years, we’ve had a B-team and not enough girls to fill the team,” he said. “Ultimately,it was the coaches’ decision based on the last few years.” He added that it can be difficult to find a coach for a B-squad, and it is “just easier to handle less teams.”
Sanders added that, for him, the primary concern is making sure that everyone who wants to has the opportunity to participate. “My personal feeling,” he said, “is that as long as we have the numbers and facilities, we’d like to give as many kids the opportunity to participate as possible.” However, Sanders mentioned that having a B-squad comes with many challenges. For example, there are not many lower-level teams from nearby schools, which makes scheduling games for a B-squad difficult.
Among players, there are mixed emotions regarding cutting an entire team. “It will improve the program,” said varsity player Cierra Vincent, a junior. “It will put stress on players so they feel like they have to work harder.” Sophomore Signe Rudrud concurred, saying, “I think it will be better, because teams will be filled with girls that want to play and are ready to play.” However, Rudrud is somewhat hesitant, because, according to her, “it will be a lot more competitive. Teammates will judge each other.”
The softball season began with a win against Washburn on April 11. So far, the decision to cut the B-squad is permanent. “We’ll see what happens next year,” said Sanders, “We’d like to provide as many teams as possible, but it’s hard to do.”