By LINDA LOBECK
IRON MOUNTAIN - The Iron Mountain School District will be offering girls another choice next year - to play varsity softball in the spring.
The school board of education gave its approval to add the new varsity sport at Monday's meeting.
Norway-Vulcan Schools have offered the sport since 2011, followed by both Niagara and Breitung Township schools this spring.
Iron Mountain Athletic Director Chris Hartman noted that Iron Mountain was the only school in the Mid-Pen Conference without girls softball as a sport.
Jeff Michaud, chairman of the board's athletic committee, noted that there had been a good discussion within the committee about the pros and cons of adding another varsity sport next year. He added that a sports survey had been put out in the high school to gauge the interest of the students and see what the numbers would be. The results indicated that there would be good numbers for the sport.
Girls softball at Iron Mountain is being added as a self-supporting sport, similar to soccer and bowling. It is being introduced in the school district on a trial basis for three years.
"With sufficient student interest in the sport, we should have more than enough girls for a team next year. We need a minimum of 12-13 and we have more than that," Michaud said. "I think it's worth a try."
Supt. Tom Jayne agreed. "It's not a decision that we've taken lightly. It's something that's been in the works for some time now and discussed for awhile. We did our homework on this and the kids are in support of it."
Michaud indicated that the group involved with softball in Iron Mountain has enough money raised already to run the program for the first year.
Hartman said that the position of girls softball coach will be first posted internally and then externally.
Jayne said that he has heard of a couple of people who would be interested in coaching who played softball in college.
Back in 2010, the Michigan High School Athletic Association denied the request by Iron Mountain and Breitung Township Schools to co-op the sports of boys baseball and girls softball stating that the two schools
were too large to be allowed to co-op the sports.
The two districts already co-op several sports including hockey, bowling, cross country, skiing, and swimming.
The school board had been approached at that time by a group of interested people who already had a plan in place to provide funding for the sport.
If the co-op had been approved, the school districts had indicated in 2010 that Breitung would handle girls softball and iron Mountain boys baseball. It was noted that this would work out best at that time since Iron Mountain was a couple of years away from being ready to take on varsity girls softball.
Linda Lobeck's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.