Lutheran has announced it will have a varsity girls softball team that will compete next fall, and the move has led to discussions about next season’s playing status — mostly of one particular player.
Junior Katie Dack-Howell, a student at Lutheran, has played softball for Rock Canyon for the past three seasons and is one of the state’s best 5A players. But she played this season under a cloud of uncertainty regarding whether she can finish her prep softball career as a senior member of the Rock Canyon team, play 3A softball with a new Lutheran program or not play at all.
Lutheran didn’t have a softball program, so under state rule CRS 22-32-165.5, Dack-Howell could seek participation opportunities at a school in her school district of residence or her school district of attendance.
Dack-Howell, who has committed to play softball at Texas A&M and won the shot put and discus state championship last spring for Lutheran, lives in the Rock Canyon attendance area, and since Lutheran previously did not have a softball team, she played for the past three seasons at Rock Canyon.
The Colorado High School Activities Association follows state laws, so when Lutheran adds a softball program, then Dack-Howell and other students from Lutheran who might have played for other schools would be required by state law to return and play for Lutheran.
Rock Canyon softball coach Mike Desimone, Katie’s parents, CHSAA and Lutheran have had discussions. Katie’s parents are planning to appeal.
Here’s what some of those involved had to say:
“One of the problems we face is nobody wants to be negative toward CHSAA or put administrators in a tough position,” said Desimone. “Nobody is looking to do that. The life we live today is complicated and there are circumstances that require us as adults to look a little deeper and understand the situation to give kids the best opportunity available to them.
“It is unfortunate to put a kid in that position as a senior. I understand if you are a freshman, you might have to switch. That’s a chance you take but you still have the lion’s share of your softball career in high school. Doing this to a senior — because it is unrealistic to expect her to play 3A because she is one of the best players in the country, let alone the state — asking that player to play at a lower level is not fair to the other players, it’s not fair for her. That’s why I feel an appeal process is necessary.”
Katie’s mother, Jamie, pointed out that Rock Canyon will lose six seniors and four starters off this season’s team and that they are not filing an appeal for an athletic advantage.
“We’re not trying to put Katie in a better situation,” said Katie’s mother “We’re just asking to finish what she started.”
CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green countered with two rebuttals and feels the focus and celebration should be on Lutheran for establishing a girls softball team.
“My answer is the state statutes are clear that if your school offers a program that you participate at that school, which I 100% agree with because you are a student first,” she said.
Her second reason is that all softball players who attend Lutheran should want to be a part of a grassroots start-up team, help establish a program and be a representative of their school.
Lutheran has hired former Chaparral assistant Glen Maestretti as its first head coach, and the school has no thoughts of demanding that Katie would not finish her softball career at Rock Canyon.
“We are not out to disrupt anything,” said Lutheran Athletic Director Mark Duitsman. “We simply want what’s best for our students while also making decisions about what’s best for our school.
“We do have a number of current students who play softball at other schools, and we have been and continue to be their biggest fans whether they are playing for Lutheran or for a different school. We are here to serve and support our students and community and that will always be a core value for us.”
Each week, performances of south metro athletes and teams will be highlighted. This week’s performances were selected from games, matches and meets from Oct. 24-31.
Junior Kalen Shoemaker of Legend completed 21 of 40 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-34 football win over Doherty on Oct. 25. Senior Blake Rarog rushed for 103 yards and caught seven passes for 130 yards in the game.
Lutheran senior Payton Brgoch had 11 kills, a 64.7 kills percentage and a .529 hit percentage in a 3-0 volleyball sweep over St. Mary’s Academy on Oct. 24.
Junior Clay Nanke of Regis Jesuit had three sacks, five quarterback hurries and nine total tackles in a 41-21 football win over Fountain Fort Carson on Oct. 25.
Jake Rubley, a junior quarterback for Highlands Ranch, connected on 10 of 20 passes for 243 yards and two TDs in a 35-28 football win over Mountain Vista on Oct. 25.
The Heritage football team downed Gateway, 42-6, on Oct. 31, and in the past seven games the Eagles have scored an average of 47.7 points per contest and have gone 6-1 in those games.
Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-566-4083.
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