Softball program charges ahead for Ennis School
In November 2017, the Ennis School Board discussed incorporating a school-sanctioned high school softball team. The board was approached during their monthly meeting by sisters, and summer rec softball league coaches, Kelley Knack and Jamie Lovett. After several discussions and interest shown from students, the board and Ennis Athletic Director Paul Bills decided to push for a program. So far, Lovett and Knack have received more than $20,000 in donations, and are hoping to present more donation letters of intent to the board during their Feb. 14 meeting.
“My whole thing is Ennis is growing and softball is growing,” said Knack. “The interest is there and softball would give some kids a place to go and another avenue to get involved.” With an already successful rec league, Knack believes the interest will carry over into high school. “It’s a different kind of sport that doesn’t require a specific skill set,” she said
With an estimated startup cost close to $30,000 for the program, and an additional $20,000 every year thereafter, the Montana High School Association would allow a one-time fundraising event specific to the program. Additional fundraising events would need to support all school programs.
Armed with donation letters of intent to show the board, Knack and Lovett said they feel a donor drive will help secure the majority of costs needed. “We’ve had people coming from all over and donating,” said Lovett. “People I didn’t even know who played in college or high school are coming out of the woodwork and giving – it’s amazing.” With a newfound wealth of softball knowledge in the community, both Knack and Lovett said the prospects for a successful softball program are good. “We know the basics,” said Lovett. “But, if we get a program, we would look to hire a more knowledgeable coach.”
Lovett and Knack are researching a matching recreation grant through the Department of Natural Resources. The biggest expense would be travel costs, as Ennis, if established, would participate in the eastern conference. Other expenses would be for field improvements, bathroom facilities, equipment and uniforms.
The board has until May 1 to present a proposal to the MHSA, if it chooses to create a softball program. Knack said, should the board decide to create a team, the team could start playing as soon as the spring 2019 season.