Softball team problems rife

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 24, 2002

By Ryan Berni, Destrehan

DEAR EDITOR: I am Ryan Berni, a 17-year-old senior at Destrehan High School. I am frustrated with the lack of a response I have gotten regarding the state of softball in this parish from my Recreation Department, and this is an outlet that will generate attention. I have helped coach East St. Charles 15-16 softball (All-Stars and Recreation teams) over the past year and I am an avid softball fan, brother, and advocate.

I and others have always believed that St. Charles Parish does All-Stars wrongly by having two teams – each divided by our natural boundary of the Mississippi River. The talent is not equal, and the best scenario for all intents and purposes would be to make two teams with equal pitching and ability mixed from both sides of the river. This would allow girls from both sides to have an equal shot at winning. Also, the recreation department needs to set guidelines for drafting players to allow equality.

The next mistake that needs to be changed is having parents coach at the upper level (14 and older). These girls are older now and they need someone who not only knows the game, but has played the game themselves in a competitive manner. Parents have done a great job so far, but change is needed for the future.

My greatest concern is that of the softball facilities in our parish. Land was donated to the parish next to the West Bank Bridge Park for the development of softball fields. Two are in the (slow) process of being developed. This would make two of nearly 20 fields available to softball players. The ratio of girls to boys being served by our programs in this parish is not close to being 1:10. In order to field competitive teams, more sufficient and MORE facilities will be needed. Also, schedules and statistics show that the girls get the short end of the stick when it comes to practices and game facilities. These girls deserve better- they at least deserve EQUAL.

I speak for many parents, players, coaches and friends when I say that something needs to be done SOON. After all, I am a male, and I see the disparity.

Maybe this will generate response from Mr. Matson and the rest of the Department. I am open to criticism, and I hope to generate plenty of response.