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Taking the field: L’Anse approves varsity baseball

L’ANSE – The L’Anse Area Schools will be fielding a high school baseball team this spring, if parents and coaches can organize funding, uniforms and other details in time for the season.

The LAS board approved the team Monday and said Athletic Director Darrin Voskuhl would begin scheduling games in the next few weeks, with the understanding the team and parents, not the district, will pay all costs associated with the program.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the boys, and I’m excited to see the implementation,” said Superintendent Susan Tollefson. “I think it will be funded, but the season starts in March, about seven weeks from now.”

Tollefson said a proposal from parents stated several businesses had already promised to sponsor the team. Students would also pay a $75 participation fee.

Board Vice President Jim Fedie, who also serves on the athletic committee, said there was some concern varsity baseball would pull athletes from track and golf.

“My concern is we’re spreading (athletes) out a little thin – girls’ softball costs track a lot,” Fedie said, before eventually voting to approve the team.

He said 15 boys had expressed interest in baseball, and that Pete Magaraggia would likely manage the team. An ideal number of players for a team would be about 12, he said, but the team would probably carry everyone interested initially.

The team would likely not be able to join a league this year, he said, but could schedule games with local teams including Houghton, Hancock, Ishpeming and Negaunee.

Student athletes can play more than one sport in a season, he added, but have to choose a primary sport in case of conflicting competition schedules.

Tollefson said she felt the girls’ softball program had been successful, and both the local Little League program and regional high school baseball seemed to be growing. Also, she said, L’Anse’s new athletic fields include a men’s baseball field.

“With the fields being developed, it’s important we use those and develop those teams,” noted board Treasurer Anne Koski.

Board member Allen Dantes said a varsity team will give students an appropriate place to continue the sport after aging out of youth leagues.

“Right now a lot of high school students are playing in the men’s softball league,” he said. “I really don’t like that, the students around the bad influence of the older men around the softball field.”

Board member Christine Collins wondered whether there would still be enough interest to maintain the team six or seven years down the road.