Posted: Friday, April 20, 2012 10:36:20 AM
April 19, 2012 Lack of players ends Vanoss baseball season Bob Forrest Guest Sports Writer The Ada News Vanoss — Because of what Vanoss High School Principal Gary Stidham called “a mixture of issues” that has created “a perfect storm,” the Vanoss baseball team has cancelled its final two regular season games and will not field a team in next week’s Class 2A District Tournament. “Under OSSAA rules, you have to have X-number of players to play games and, at this point, we don’t have enough players,” Stidham said Thursday. Stidham said the Wolves had 10 players for their last game on Monday (a run-rule loss to Caddo), and even though first-year coach Neb Brown had already called off their final two regular season games (Saturday at Perkins) by Wednesday, school officials were still holding out hope Thursday morning the district tournament against Colbert at Vanoss could be played. “It was a mixture of issues — a perfect storm,” Stidham said of the factors that contributed to the early end to the Wolves’ baseball season. Stidham declined to go into specifics about what caused the loss of players that got the Wolves below the nine players required under Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association rules to field a team, saying instead that it was — in the end — simply “a numbers game.” “Kids need to understand that they impact each other when they’re involved in team sports — their actions and their grades go into those things,” he said. “We have known for three or four weeks that we had some concerns about some academic situations. We had some kids stay on the borderline for some things. We’ve also had some disciplinary issues that weren’t major things, but just trying to establish protocol that had been out there. “The biggest issue was that I believe we never had more than 11 kids suited out (all season). Because of that, it was always touch and go,” Stidham said. “We crunched the numbers and in the end there just no way we could field nine players.” Stidham, a former coach who served as the athletic director at Konawa High School and the principal at Wanette before moving to Vanoss last fall, acknowledged that forfeiting a playoff game or series is among the rarest of occurrences in Oklahoma high school sports. “I can’t say I remember it happening, but it’s happened before,” he said. “I’ve been in it for 40 years and this is the first one I’ve been associated with. “I grieve for our kids, but if this had not been on the horizon and we hadn’t been as diligent as we have been, I would be more remorseful,” Stidham noted. “I’m very confident that we — as administrators, our coaches and our teachers — have turned over all the rocks and have been as diligent as we can be on this issue.” Stidham said it was ironic the decision to end the Vanoss baseball season should fall on April 19. “I’m bordering on heartbroken, but April 19 hasn’t been a good day for me,” he explained. “In 1995 I went to seven funerals as a result of the Murrah bombing, so this is a drop in the bucket. That tells you the difference in adversity and inconvenience.” Although this week’s news and the premature end to the season came on first-year coach Neb Brown’s watch, Stidham said Brown didn’t contribute to the circumstances leading to Thursday’s decision. “His role has been positive — he has worked very hard for us,” Stidham said. “I have the utmost respect for Neb and for all coaches. There are things that haven’t gone the way he wanted them to, but I have no issue with Neb whatsoever. “Neb is a young coach and this was his first public school coaching situation, and I think this year what he did was admirable,” he added. “I have seen tremendous growth in our athletes as people and baseball players. You want a happy ending, and I do think good things will come out of this.