Par­ents an­gered Thomas Stone not field­ing base­ball team

School may have JV team if it can get enough play­ers

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

The news that Thomas Stone High School would not be able to field a var­sity base­ball team this sea­son came out of left field for some par­ents.

“To me, it came out of nowhere. It’s like a sucker punch,” said Michael Fen­wick Sr., whose son has played base­ball at Stone for the pre­vi­ous three years. “He’s dis­ap­pointed, I’m dis­ap­pointed ... be­cause a base­ball schol­ar­ship would help him a whole aw­ful lot, col­lege money-wise.”

Ear­lier this month, it was an­nounced that Stone, a school with three state cham­pi­onships, three run­ner-up fin­ishes, six ap­pear­ances in the state semi­fi­nals and 15 South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships, did not have enough play­ers to field a var­sity base­ball team.

“They were hav­ing work­outs, and then they were told they don’t have enough play­ers,” Fen­wick said.

The school might be able to field a ju­nior var­sity base­ball team. This week, work­outs were held, and eight play­ers at­tended. Eleven would be the min­i­mum needed for a JV team, said coach James Lan­dis.

“We’re go­ing to con­tinue to hold work­outs and prac­tices for at least an­other week and see if more come out,” Lan­dis said.

The news may have come too late, how­ever, said par­ent Stacy Pritch­ett. Pritch­ett, the mother of a sopho­more, said many stu­dent ath­letes have al­ready made com­mit­ments to other sports.

“If it hadn’t hap­pened so late, they would have had enough

play­ers to play,” Pritch­ett said.

Pritch­ett spoke at the school board’s March 21 meet­ing. She said par­ents and stu­dents were in­formed the Mary­land Pub­lic Sec­ondary Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion rules did not per­mit a school to have a JV team if it did not have a var­sity team.

“We were given that in­for­ma­tion, but it was in­cor­rect; it was cor­rected a week ago,” said Charles County Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Steve Lee.

Pritch­ett said had they known they could have a JV team ear­lier, there would have been a bet­ter chance of get­ting more play­ers to turn out, and a bet­ter chance of re­build­ing the pro­gram.

“We’ve been ask­ing since last year to have a JV team,” Pritch­ett said. “My thoughts are that the Thomas Stone team has sac­ri­ficed this year, but now, at least, other schools know they can field a JV team [with­out hav­ing a var­sity team].”

Rudy Car­rico Jr., an as­sis­tant base­ball coach at Stone, told the school board March 21 that be­gin­ning play­ers should not start at the var­sity level.

“If you’ve never played base­ball what­so­ever, it’s a dan­ger­ous sport to get out there and play with a metal bat against ex­pe­ri­enced var­sity play­ers,” Car­rico said. “JV is where they need to start.”

Car­rico said part of the rea­son Stone could not field a var­sity base­ball team is due to the redis­trict­ing that oc­curred with the open­ing of St. Charles High School.

“The ap­proval of St. Charles High School has had se­ri­ous neg­a­tive con­se­quences on Thomas Stone stu­dent-ath­letes,” Car­rico said. “Thomas Stone High School has been hol­lowed out.”

En­roll­ment at Stone de­clined 20 per­cent fol­low­ing the redis­trict­ing.

The school sys­tem also in­sti­tuted new el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments for ath­letic and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties in the mid­dle of the 2015-16 school year, in­creas­ing the min­i­mum grade re­quire­ment from a 2.0 Grade Point Av­er­age to a 2.25 GPA, with no “F” grade, and no more than 4.5 ab­sences in a quar­ter, with a few ex­cep­tions.

Shortly af­ter it was an­nounced that Stone would not have a var­sity team, it was also an­nounced that St. Charles would use the Stone field for home games, but Lee said an ar­range­ment has been worked out with Charles County Parks Depart­ment whereby St. Charles can use one of the fields at Lau­rel Springs Re­gional Park.

“That makes me feel bet­ter, be­cause I feel it’s very dif­fi­cult for the boys when they have to see some­one else play­ing on their field,” Pritch­ett said.

Lee said the St. Charles base­ball and soft­ball fields were de­signed too close to­gether, with the fields aligned wrong.

“We can’t play base­ball and soft­ball at the same time be­cause foul balls go into each other’s fields,” Lee said.

Fen­wick said form­ing a ju­nior var­sity team now wouldn’t help his son, who has played var­sity base­ball for three years, and was look­ing to get ex­po­sure to ap­ply for a base­ball schol­ar­ship.

“He’s dis­ap­pointed. He won’t say it to me, but it’s de­mor­al­iz­ing, be­cause he was re­ally ex­cited, be­cause he re­ally thought he’d get the footage for the base­ball team to get a schol­ar­ship,” Fen­wick said. “The sport that he loves, it’s been taken away from him.”

Pritch­ett said she is look­ing into pri­vate schools and pay­ing out-of-county tu­ition for a pub­lic school where her son will have a bet­ter shot of play­ing base­ball.

“Athletics is just as im­por­tant as aca­demics for help­ing to grow the en­tire stu­dent,” Pritch­ett said.

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