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Whitefish School District adds high school baseball, girls wrestling

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | May 4, 2022 1:00 AM

Next spring Whitefish High School will provide two new sanctioned high school sports – baseball and girls wrestling.

Earlier in 2022, the Montana High School Association voted to create high school baseball as a sanctioned sport and in April the Whitefish School Board voted to officially adopt a baseball program.

“There is a lot of excitement across Montana in all classifications and, of course, in our community and our school with the buzz of baseball potentially coming to Whitefish High School,” Whitefish High School Activities Director Aric Harris said.

He added that there has been much collaboration between administration, the MHSA and many Montana high schools to create the proposal.

The baseball season will run from mid-March to late May and be around an 18-game season. The baseball program is approved as a non-school funded program, which means it will have a minimal impact financially on the school district, Harris explained. The baseball team will form a board which will then have the responsibility of fundraising for the program.

With the adoption of baseball, Whitefish now has four non-school funded high school sports – softball, baseball, and boys and girls swimming.

Boys cross country was technically not school funded, though it piggybacked on the girls program, and now with this proposal, it will be funded by the school.

Girls wrestling, which became an MHSA sanctioned sport a couple of years back, was also approved in the high school activities update at the school board meeting. Now because girls wrestling is a sanctioned sport, female athletes are no longer allowed to compete in the boys program and thus creating the girls program was important to give students that opportunity.

Harris says he anticipates four or five girls competing in girls wrestling next year.

“It is a fast-growing sport across the United States,” he said. “A lot of scholarship opportunities are available for female wrestlers. It is a big program within our junior wrestling program as well.”

Girls wrestling will be school funded, however, it will run alongside the boys program, with the same paid coach, and thus also have a minimal impact on the district financially, according to Harris.

In the meeting, the board discussed why some programs are being funded and others are not, and Harris explained it comes down to not only the interest shown in the activity but also the amount of money needed to fund the program and the impact it would have on the district budget.

As of the meeting in mid-April, seven western Class A Montana schools had approved high school baseball with the anticipation of all Class A schools in the western part of the state, apart from one, adopting the program.

Columbia Falls also added high school baseball in a recent school board meeting.