The sun is shining and the baseball fields are green, but the West Wendover High School baseball team won’t be playing ball this year.
West Wendover High School Athletic Director Nick Vuillemot said the school’s baseball season was canceled on March 11 because the roster of eligible and willing players dropped below the nine required for play.
“Our roster was under nine at that point due to eligibilities, team rules and a few athletes choosing not to play at that point,” he said. “Unfortunately, we had to cancel our baseball season for the remainder of the year.”
Vuillemot said the team, mostly comprised of younger players, had to forfeit one game initially before the eligibility deadline passed and the decision was made to cancel the season. The lack of eligibility comes in part from a new, stricter scholastic policy for players, he said, which prioritizes academics, and emphasizes that academics come before athletics.
“We really pressed it that you have to have the grades to play. There were no deals being made,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of the athletes didn’t hold up their end and didn’t have the grades to play.”
Though a hard lesson, the enforcement of the stricter policy will hopefully inspire a change in the culture of West Wendover High School, he said. The baseball season’s cancellation has disappointed eager players, but has also served as an example for players of other sports.
“We’ve set a precedent in a way, with the expectation, and we’ve drawn the line in the sand and I think it was a wake-up call,” said Vuillemot. “The kids in the other sports, if anything, have improved their grades because they have seen what happened to baseball. They’ve seen we’re serious, and the coaches have not wanted that to happen to their program.”
Hopefully, too, the cancellation of this season will make the program stronger in years to come, he added. Because most of the baseball team has younger players — there was just one senior this year — the majority should be back next year. There are several promising 8th graders who will be in high school by the next season.
“We view this as just an isolated incident and look forward to traditional play next season,” he said. “We see good things in the future.”