Monroe High cancels baseball season
Monroe High is not fielding a baseball team or a boys golf team this spring, according to athletic director Tim Niedermeier.
He said both decisions were based on a lack of participation.
“It’s been tough,” Niedermeier said. “I’ve never cancelled a season, and we’ve had to cancel two.”
Niedermier said baseball coach Leroy Osborne needed at least 13, but preferably 14, players to field a varsity team.
“We were getting eight some days, then 10, then 12, then eight,” Niedermeier said of the preseason baseball practices. “We had a couple meetings with the kids and tried to explain the situation but we just weren’t getting the numbers we needed to have a team.
“It killed me to make this decision. It’s something I didn’t want to do. We consulted with administration about it and it got to the point where we had to make a decision.”
Union County Athletic Director Doug Jones, a 1979 graduate of Monroe High, said there were 12 Little League teams plus Babe Ruth baseball within the city limits when he was growing up.
Jones said to the best of his memory this is the first time Monroe High isn’t fielding a varsity baseball team.
“There’s 900 kids at Monroe but there just isn’t enough interest in baseball,” Jones said. “They don’t see it a lot around here with no Babe Ruth and no feeder programs. They’ve lost interest. Baseball’s not usually something you’re going to pick up in the ninth grade.
“We’ve struggled for years to have enough to play baseball at Monroe. This isn’t the first year it’s been close.”
Ironically, Union County has some of the best high school baseball in the state.
Weddington won the 3A state title last year, and WHS, Piedmont and Cuthbertson have four college commitments each on their current rosters.
“I hate it because you know there are boys at Monroe that really want to play baseball and now they can’t,” said Piedmont coach Milt Flow, who had two conference games against Monroe cancelled. “It’s a shame they don’t have enough. You hate to see that.”
“It’s amazing the difference when you drive just a few miles down the road,” Niedermeier said. “I do think the lack of youth baseball in Monroe has really hurt our program over the years.”
Niedermier said there’s been a proactive reaction within the community.
On Tuesday, a participation meeting is being held at Monroe Middle with the hope of rejuvenating the Babe Ruth baseball program this summer.
“The hope is that we can get those kids to move up and stick with it,” Niedermier said. “We want to see baseball come back and succeed here. We might have to take a step back to move forward.”
In addition to the baseball situation, Niedermeier was disappointed to cancel the boys golf season.
The Redhawks needed four golfers to field a team, according to Niedermeir, but didn’t have the numbers.
“We had other guys show interest,” Niedermeier said. “But when it came down to it, one guy was showing up every day.”