Middle school girls’ softball gets the go-ahead

Miriam Nelson
News Editor

Next spring, Wittenberg-Birnamwood middle school girls will have the opportunity to participate in softball. The sport will be based on an eight-week season, two games per week and several practices prior to the start of the season.

Superintendent Garrett Rogowski shared his research with the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School Board regarding beginning expenses and estimated annual costs.

An initial $2,000 for the first year would be an investment in uniforms which, according to Rogowski, is on a 10-year rotation. He noted that with fundraising, other sports have reduced uniform replacement to a five-year rotation.

For the annual cost per year, Rogowski included officials’ fees at $55 per game for six home games for a total of $660, and transportation costs for games in and out of town at $408. The estimated cost for a coach would be about $1,000 and would bring the annual total to roughly $2,000, said Rogowski. He added that most of the equipment needed can be borrowed from the youth summer programs or the high school.

In his estimate, Rogowski did not include transportation costs for practices, saying that students can walk from the school to the village ball diamond. Birnamwood students will be transported by bus to the Wittenberg Elementary Middle School building.

Only seventh and eighth grade girls will be allowed to participate due to the physical differences that can exist between sixth and eighth graders, said Rogowski, noting that safety for the players is a high priority.

Title IX, a law that provides for equal participation for boys and girls in school athletics, among other things, is based on how many participants are included in a sport rather than the number of sports offered. Boys’ football programs traditionally have the highest numbers of athletes, and adding a girls’ middle school softball program could help balance out those numbers.

Board member Dan Stewart made the motion to proceed with the softball program because it offers girls another option, and it provides the opportunity to offer another sports program for a younger age group.

The board voted in favor of adding the sport at the school board meeting June 22.