Iredell-Statesville Schools School & Family Magazine December 2016 - Page 20

We’re Talking Baseball No one seems to know how it came to be that IredellStatesville Schools stopped offering baseball at the middle school level, but the school system wants to get it back. Task force meetings have been held over the course of many months aimed at bringing what has long been called “America’s Pastime” to the ball fields of I-SS’s nine middle schools, some of which don’t yet have baseball diamonds. “All the middle school principals and ADs (athletics directors) want baseball and softball,” said Richard Armstrong, I-SS Assistant Superintendent of Operations and the district’s athletics director. “But they want it done the right way.” And by “right way” Armstrong means something that is not rushed into and done incrementally. He said the task force initially looked at having varsity -- 8th grade -- teams on the field in the spring of the 2016-17 school year. “But most of the principals and ADs were against starting up a program and then putting it together piecemeal. As a lot of us know, when you plan to add things later, sometimes they don’t get added,” Armstrong said. “So we decided we should shoot for a turnkey operation with everything in place from the start.” That pushed things back to the 2017-18 calendar. To celebrate the re-entry of baseball and softball into middle schools, a “signing” event took place on Thursday, October 27, 2016. On the mound at Statesville High School, at 10:00 a.m., middle school principals and athletic directors, along with students and some local baseball celebrities, gathered to commemorate formally the re-adoption of this sport into middle school curriculum. Currently, I-SS is one of only two school districts in all of North Carolina -- out 115 -- that does not offer baseball and softball at the middle school level. The startup estimate put together by the task force is that it will cost upwards of $150,000 to create baseball facilities at all the middle schools and another $50,000 for equipment and uniforms. But, that’s just a ballpark figure. 18 Iredell-Statesville School & Family