Linn R-2 addressed by concerned parents over rumors of fall baseball cancellation

By Edward Gehlert, Staff Writer
Posted 11/4/21

Linn R-2 board members at their Oct. 19 meeting were met by concerned parents and students over rumors of the cancellation of fall baseball to make way for the incoming football program.

During …

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Linn R-2 addressed by concerned parents over rumors of fall baseball cancellation

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Linn R-2 board members at their Oct. 19 meeting were met by concerned parents and students over rumors of the cancellation of fall baseball to make way for the incoming football program.

During the open forum portion of the meeting, two community members spoke about the importance of fall baseball to the students and asked the board to keep it as part of the school program.

Jesse Peters said that his son has no intention of playing football and has been playing baseball since he was 6 years old. “My son hasn’t grown up with football and he would prefer baseball,” Peters said, adding that fall baseball is a good way to build team cohesion.

“Who told you we were getting rid of fall baseball?” board member Tye DeCramer asked.

“There’s always rumors and stuff flying around,” Peters said. “Not saying anybody said specifically that you’re getting rid of it. I’m here just to say I don’t want you to get rid of it.”

Peters noted he had not heard much about how football would affect students, particularly seniors.

Brian Leivian spoke to the board about the rumors saying that none of the parents he represented are against football.

Leivian said there are several good reasons to have fall baseball, including an opportunity to figure out who will play what position, and the order of the line-up ahead of the spring season.

“It helps the students want to work and prepare for the spring season,” Leivian added. “Players get to meet and learn what the coaches expect, it’s motivation for the students so they can play spring baseball.”

Senior players who graduated last year told Leivian it was a great opportunity for the freshmen to see what high school baseball is like. It gives the coach an opportunity to get to know them and allows the players to get comfortable in their positions.

These players also agreed it was a great opportunity to become a team unit, and it prepared them for the spring season, which was beneficial.

Leivian also noted the seniors felt the fall season was less stressful, allowing them to concentrate on playing the game and making improvements.

He cited St. Elizabeth, Iberia, and Eugene, all of which make it to state almost every year. “What do they have in common? They all have fall baseball,” Leivian said. “Why would you consider taking something away that is working? The first year having the program we went to state, taking second place, which is something that’s never happened in the history of Linn R-2. Basketball has two seasons, softball has two seasons.”

Leivian informed the board he had a list of signatures of players committed to playing baseball and that more freshmen would be coming in wanting to play it as well, adding there will be plenty of players for next fall.

He noted that several years ago a survey went out to students and parents of Linn R-2, which asked about the addition of football, the four-day week, and fall baseball, and junior high volleyball, among other things.

Leivian noted that three of the four of the aforementioned items have been added to the school’s programming, with football to start next year.

“No conversations have been held publicly stating that if we get football, fall baseball would have to go away,” said Leivian. “Not all students want to play football.”

He added that while he’s sure that fall baseball costs a lot of money to maintain, the city of Linn has made a lot of improvements to help the kids.

Leivian said the team already has uniforms and parents are willing to help with fundraising if necessary for the fall baseball program.

Leivian added that it should be about what the students want, and not what the administration wants. “Staff and coaches should show support and show interest to motivate and encourage the students,” he said.

Leivian also addressed an earlier question about the rumors that baseball would be canceled.

“A school principal has told students not to come tonight because fall baseball is finished and he wants wrestling,” he said.

DeCramer asked which principal.

“Jeff Jacques,” Leivian replied.

“How many students do you have on that list?” DeCramer asked.

The response was 10 signatures without incoming freshmen. The board was also informed that last year, there were two seniors among the 18 baseball players and only three wanted to sign up for football.

Leivian suggested trying baseball for a few years before making the decision to eliminate the program.

“I’ll be honest with you,” DeCramer said. “The first time I’ve heard about fall baseball being cut was yesterday. It’s a shock to me just as it is to you. I don’t think anybody here has talked about it.”

Superintendent Dena Smith said, however, that it was discussed when football was approved.

Subsequent to this meeting, Jerry Baker, a parent who has pushed for equality among players, provided the UD with an email message from Linn Athletic Director Billy Garrett that reads, “The plan now is to have fall ball next year and we are currently looking for a new head baseball coach for the spring season.”

In closed session, the board accepted the resignation of Ron Lebel as the spring baseball coach.

Per district policy regarding open forum, no official answer was provided at this meeting. A response will be presented next month.

 

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