Girls’ fastpitch softball took a giant step towards formally becoming a high school sport in Wyoming Wednesday night.

With a unanimous, 9-0 vote by the Albany County School Board at their August meeting, Laramie High School becomes the eighth program to receive support for sanctioning softball as a high school sport in the state.

School Board Trustee Nate Martin originally voted yes last February. After Wednesday’s vote, he explained that the constraints of the district’s budget were why there were no votes, to begin with.

“In the context of school financing in Wyoming, when the legislature’s having all kinds of problems funding the schools because they refuse to raise revenues, the budget is always going to be the issue. People that want to see things like softball have to understand that it’s part of a bigger picture that has to do with the legislature, revenues, and things like that.”

Martin referred to reasons why an original vote ended in a deadlock, but we'll get to that.

First, let's take you back to when this groundswell started about a year ago and some of the steps along the way.

To become officially sanctioned by the Wyoming High School Activities Association (WHSAA), softball, or any other sport, is required to have eight member schools receive approval from their local school board before it becomes a varsity sport.

At its springs meeting, the WHSAA Board of Directors decided if there was enough support to start a high school softball season, it would be in the spring and a probable first season would be in 2021.

Wyoming has been out of compliance with Title IX since gymnastics was dropped in 2010 due to a lack of numbers, but the WHSAA can’t place a sport at the varsity level on its own. It has to be supported by the member schools. Softball would make Wyoming compliant with Title IX, as far as an equal number of sports offered for girls and boys in high school.

Last fall, school boards in Cody, Green River, and Rock Springs voted in support of softball. School boards in Casper and Gillette came on board this spring of 2019.

Laramie’s been through an interesting ride. The topic was originally brought to the school board last fall, but a presentation wasn’t able to be made until February. At that time, a school board trustee resigned, and a split vote of 4-4, meant a “no” vote from Albany County.

After six months of more work by a “softball committee” comprised of school board members, Laramie Girls Softball (LGS) board members, and other administrators, a more in-depth proposal was presented to the Albany County School Board last Wednesday, August 7.

Nick Hauser was one of the LGS Board members that worked on the softball committee. He said there were three main parts they looked at. They were the budget, scheduling, and participation.

As far as what they changed from their presentation in February to August, Hauser said it came down to the finer points.

“We got very detailed in the budget, so we went by line items, and then we figured out, really, what a potential schedule could look like. We felt very confident in our participation numbers, particularly with all the success we’ve recently had, so that part was a bit easier to present. Overall, really being detailed on the budget, and getting those fields ready, we knew that we were going to be close.”

That presentation, plus better numbers in the school district’s budget were the main factors that swayed the school board to a unanimous decision.

Now that the minimum of eight schools has been reached, the WHSAA Board of Directors will take action at its September meeting.

There could be other schools and school boards that join in. One is Laramie County School District No. 1’s Board in Cheyenne, who had an in-depth presentation and discussion last week and is expected to take more action on softball in their next meeting in September.

Mikaela Settle, WyoPreps.com