When the WIAA and American Legion Baseball seasons were cancelled it looked like it was going to be a lost summer for high school baseball players. Once local health restrictions were lifted Waupun High School baseball coach Derrick Standke was the driving force behind trying to find a way to give kids a chance to compete this summer on the diamond with the formation of the Badgerland High School Summer League.
Standke tells DailyDodge.com that it was a fun six weeks playing ball but it was also a huge relief off of his chest to see the season be completed safely. He says that when discussions of the possible league began with Pat Cottrell of Wisconsin Sports Services and potential coaches they stressed to everyone that they had to make safety the main focus of the summer, and thanks to everyone involved in the league buying in, they were able to pull off the season in a safe manor.
With the Badgerland fielding 10 varsity squads and another 10 JV teams, Standke says that he is proud of how the team’s all took the safety measures seriously. He says that in talking with teams across the league only a few players had to get COVID-19 tests, all of which were negative, during the season. In every case their possible exposure to the virus had nothing to do with baseball related activities. He says teams followed their local health guidelines with those players and did not jeopardize anyone involved with the league. Standke says he also appreciates the fans taking safety seriously as well, even though it might have been a challenge at times with different guidelines in place at each field. He says most people realized you had to cooperate or the alternative was not to play
In order to pull off the Badgerland Summer League players and their families also had to invest more than what they normally would have during a typical WIAA or American Legion season. Every team handled funding differently, but Standke says that in Waupun, the American Legion season is completely funded by their concession stand and other fundraisers but nobody had any issue this summer contributing financially to the league.
One of the biggest questions hovering over the league in the planning process was the ability to find umpires. Many umpires in the area are older and having underlying conditions that would make them vulnerable to cornonavirus, so it would have been understandable if they decided to sit the summer out. Standke says that he appreciates the umpires committing to working games and be on board with the safety measures. Without them they wouldn’t have been able to have a league. In Waupun, Standke gives special recognition to Randy Armga who did almost every game at Gus Thompson Field.
As for Waupun, they finished up their season 18-4 and won their Division of the varsity conference. He says his team enjoyed the opportunity to get a lot of games played in a short period of time. It was a very relaxed atmosphere, but his team competed hard even though they didn’t have an opportunity to play to go to a state or national tournament.
Gus Thompson Field won’t stay quiet very long as Waupun will host a four-team fall ball league starting this Sunday and run through September.
Click the link to hear a complete interview with Waupun baseball coach Derrick Standke
If you have a question about this story or have an idea for a future local sports story, please email Wade Bates at [email protected]