Play Ball might become the next sports cry at Skyline if a request to establish a baseball and softball program is approved.
The program proposal was presented to the Skyline Board of Education during their regular monthly meeting Monday.
In a library packed with about 40 students and parents interested in starting a baseball and softball program, Skyline parent Mark Etsell acted as spokesman and said lots of kids, over 80, said they want to play.
Etsell said he had pledges from sponsors, both with and without students, willing to financially support the program. Several parents said they would put up the money to play. He estimates it would take from $2,500 to $5,000 field a team.
"I feel I could raise all of it," Etsell said.
Skyline has no baseball field but Etsell said he had secured a place to play games. Larry Eisenhauer, assistant Pratt Recreation Director, said Smoky Ford Field at the Green Sports Complex would be available for games and they could make a schedule work for games.
Eisenhauer said they also get a lot of breaks on sports equipment cost and the recreation department will support the program any way they can just so they can have the option to play ball.
"At least they should the choice," Eisenhauer said.
Etsell had even found a potential coach that would donate his services. Skyline Superintendent Mike Sanders said the Kansas State High School Activities Association requires a coach to be hired and be paid the going wage for the position.
Etsell said the volunteer could donate the salary back to the school. Sanders said that would a decision up to the coach.
Many at the meeting were students and several spoke in favor of starting the program. Student Ryan Richardson said baseball was an alternative to track. It was a competitive sport that was also fun and would reach students not already involved in the track program.
Baseball could also reach out to students at other schools that didn't have baseball, Richardson said.
Student Blake Lee said he played a lot of baseball and it would be a great option for students.
Among the positive aspects of baseball are it's a good team sport and players learn to work with each other, it develops eye-hand coordination.
Sanders said the Board had much to consider before making a decision. Cost of the program, practice and game scheduling, salaries, costs for uniforms, equipment and supplies all have to be considered.
Etsell said he understood that it probably wouldn't be possible to get a baseball program started this year.
About five years ago the Board considered a baseball program. A main concern then as it was Monday was pulling students away from the track program.
The cost of travel is also a big factor since a baseball team would have to travel a long distance. Possible schools include Medicine Lodge, Spearville, Ashland, Otis-Bison, Lions and Little River.
The district would also have to transport players to and from practices.
A conflict for track and baseball is the two sports occur simultaneously and state competition for both events is the same week, Sanders said.
Etsell said several kids he had talked to were considering going to Pratt to school just so they could play baseball.
Following the meeting with Etsell and the others, Sanders told the Board the administration would gather all the information they could but information about other schools and their teams would be hard to come by until school was back in session. It may be September before they can get back to Etsell with a decision.
In other Board activity:
• Jimmie Lee was approved as high school boys' basketball assistant coach.
• Andrew Nation was approved as middle school boys' basketball head coach.
• The mileage reimbursement rate increased from $0.55 to $0.56 and meal reimbursement increased from $8 to $10.
• Health insurance increased 16.6 percent per month. It will cost Skyline $38,000 to cover the cost of the increase.
• Adding security cameras would cost the district about $9,000. The first camera would be for the front door and cost about $2,000 for the camera and installation.