VALLEY COLLEGE : Softball Team’s Ouster Criticized

A decision to cut the women’s softball team from the athletic program at Valley College has upset players and women’s athletic officials.

Brick Durley, assistant dean of administrative services, said the team was eliminated because of lack of participation.

But Dee Stark, women’s athletic director, said that when the team was cut late last month, there were 14 players on the team. A scheduling conflict prevented other team members from joining until after the end of basketball season, she said.

The team started practicing a month ago, she said, but was eliminated the day before its first practice game. She said it is difficult for her to understand why the team was cut.

“We’ve never had to cancel a game, and we’ve always met our conference commitments,” Stark said. “It was already written into the budget, and other schools have less players than us.”


Stark said she asked college President Mary Lee and Mary Ann Breckell, vice president of administration, to reverse their decision.

But she said they would not reconsider. Lee and Breckell failed to return phone calls about the team.

“The sad point is the students end up suffering because they don’t have an opportunity to try,” Stark said.

She added that many students use their experience to win scholarships for continuing their education. “For some, it was a doorway to higher education.”

Sandra Zerner, the team’s coach, said it would be difficult to reinstate the team.

Zerner, a former player on the team, said she was looking forward to coaching it. “I was so excited. It was my dream job. It meant so much to me.”

Former team member Erica Hauck said the action was premature. “We had enough players to field a team,” she said.

Stark said that although the men’s athletic department has eight sports teams, the women’s has only four. “In a time when women are gaining equal rights, we should be adding programs, not cutting them,” she said. “That doesn’t sound like equal opportunity to me.”