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Lakers face baseball pickle

Alex Close
Sierra Sun
Alex Close/File PhotoNorth Tahoe High senior Michael Forte, who broke his foot during basketball season, is shown making a play on the infield last year. North Tahoe baseball may not field a team this season due to lack of numbers. More details will be known next week.
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North Tahoe’s baseball program is in serious danger of losing its 2007 season.

At Sierra Sun press time Thursday, North Tahoe administrators were still waiting for confirmation from league officials as to the possibility of competing under independent status after previously withdrawing the Laker baseball team from Division 3A participation.

Independent status would allow the team to set its own schedule and have more flexibility to control work with players who have academic eligibility issues.

After having only nine players show up for a practice late last week, head baseball coach Jack Bernardo drafted a letter to Athletic Director Scott Everist explaining that he may not have enough dedicated players to commit to the season.

Everist and Principal Bill Frey promptly notified the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) that North Tahoe would not be able to participate in 3A competition as scheduled.

Bernardo said the administration had previously decided that at least 12 players would be needed to proceed with the season.

With the cost of transportation and officials, North Tahoe could not commit to normal 3A competition while knowing about a strong possibility of multiple canceled games due to personnel issues, Everist said.

There is a core of student athletes very interested in baseball ” such as juniors Sean Bernardo and Taylor Good ” who wish to play ball in college. The coaches and administration are doing everything in their power to field some kind of a team.

“We’ll do anything to keep it,” Everist said of the baseball program. “It’s one of those things you never want to see happen.”

After some effort to recruit more bodies, Bernardo came up with a 16-player roster. Of those 16, six are academically ineligible.

The coaching staff and administration hosted a lunch-hour meeting Wednesday with potential players and, while players in attendance said they wanted to make it happen, lack of enthusiasm and sheer numbers did not bode well for the season.

Eleven students attended the meeting, and almost half of them have academic issues. While there were other potential players absent due to this week’s state snowboarding championship at Mt. Shasta, things are still very much up in the air for Laker baseball.

“It’s a mess and I don’t know if we’re going to get it resolved,” Bernardo said the day before the meeting.

When asked by the coaching staff at Wednesday’s meeting whether they would be willing to play under an independent status, the resounding answer was yes.

However, when Bernardo went around the room and asked each player individually whether they would be at practice later that evening, most players committed but some didn’t know if they could make it.

Bernardo, whose primary sport is baseball, was agitated with his peers’ lack of firm commitment.

“There is a difference between saying you’re going to play and showing up,” Bernardo said during the meeting.

After the meeting, Bernardo and Good said they were extremely disappointed. They said they have both offered to help tutor fellow teammates and try to drum up new players, but overall enthusiasm from other players just did not seem to be there.

Said Principal Frey, only four players showed up to practice Wednesday afternoon following the team meeting.

“It’s so upsetting,” Good said.

Both players mentioned the possibility of transferring to Truckee High School to play for the Wolverines.

Unsure of his team’s status or if there even would be a team in his first year as head coach, Jack Bernardo struggled to understand how so many kids could lack the drive to make the 2.0 grade point average needed to play a sport.

“Representing your school is something you only get to do for four years and it’s over,” Bernardo said. “It’s so important.”


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