A new sport will be offered this fall for students of Jacksonville Middle School.
The District 117 School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve boys baseball and girls softball teams at JMS.
Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the addition of baseball and softball is an opportunity for students that has been a long time in the making.
“We are very excited to be able to finally, in my opinion, provide middle school baseball and softball for our students. This is a great opportunity for our kids to get into a sport that we know is losing interest throughout the country, and it’s a great sport for kids to pick up now that they can play into their adult lives with things like softball leagues and whatever. It will really help hopefully boost our high school programs. We’re really excited about it, just extra opportunities for our kids.”
Ptacek says he hopes the addition of baseball and softball will help make District 117 more attractive to parents and students who may possibly be looking to move into the area.
Currently, there are very few schools in the area that offer baseball or softball at the middle school level. Ptacek says though that there is already a limited number of games on the schedule for JMS this fall.
“The Athletic Director from Jacksonville Middle School has been actively working to get a schedule together. We do have a schedule with a limited number of games, but we are starting to see more and more requests to play us come in. And I think that will probably escalate after this is officially approved tonight.”
Ptacek says this year’s schedule may be on the short side as the programs are in their infancy. It is the hope of the JMS athletic director and coaches however that interest grows in the teams.
Ptacek says this fall the boys JMS baseball team will play home games at the Future Champions complex, while the girl’s softball team will play at the softball field at the high school.
Boy’s middle school baseball rules call for a different mound set up than high school rules do. Ptacek says changing the mound placement to shift between the two teams at the high school baseball field is not an option.
If the teams are successful in filling out rosters and participating in season play, Ptacek says the administration will look into if it would be possible to install a dedicated field on the grounds at Jacksonville Middle School. Until then, the district will contract with Future Champions for JMS to host home games.