Introducing softball team might have to wait, official says

TCU is among the University of Wyoming and Air Force Academy as the only three schools in the Mountain West Conference that do not field a women’s softball team.

Tyler Lockwood, a junior starting pitcher for the university’s baseball team, said he doesn’t understand why TCU wouldn’t have a team.

“[Softball] was a pretty big deal in high school,” Lockwood said.

Lockwood said he isn’t clear on the guidelines of how a team is made, but he thinks a softball team would give women fair recognition.

“I have asked before about why we don’t have a softball team, but I have never gotten an answer,” Lockwood said.

Kim Johnson, associate athletics director and senior woman administrator, said she wants to clear up any confusion.

She said the main reason TCU does not have a softball team is because TCU added women’s equestrian in 2006.

“We want women to have opportunities here, and we have to think about what gives us the best mode for providing opportunity,” Johnson said. “In 2005 when there was discussion for adding a sport, I was not here, but I can comfortably say the administrator looked at our situation in terms of resources, and equestrian best fit TCU.”

TCU’s women’s equestrian team won the national championship in April of this year. It was the first national championship for TCU since the women’s golf team won the national championship in 1983, according to TCU’s athletics Web site.

According to TCU’s athletics Web site, equestrian is one of 10 women’s sports programs at TCU, compared to only eight men’s sports programs. Rifle, volleyball, soccer and equestrian are four women-only teams. Baseball and football are the two male-only teams.

Johnson said TCU examines its resources every five years to see if it can add another sport. The plan started in 2006 with the emergence of the equestrian team.

“We’re always thinking what else can we do. It’s not that softball is off the radar or any other sport for that fact,” Johnson said.

Samantha Vaughn, a sophomore radio-TV-film major, said she is upset there is no softball team on campus and feels the university would benefit from school spirit.

“I played softball in high school, and I play on the greek softball intramural Alpha Delta Pi team now,” Vaughn said. “I personally love watching and playing softball. I wish there was a team at TCU because I would definitely go to their games.”

Johnson said patience is key.

“Adding a sport, unfortunately, is not something we can do with the snap of a finger, not if you are going to do it right,” Johnson said. “If we are going to do it right, it means something that will take us time to be satisfied as an institution, a department and more than anything else, for a student athlete who’s participating.

“I don’t want the student body to think that we don’t care about softball. What we’re doing is thinking what can we do to integrate more women on campus and in athletics. We really thought we could do that with equestrian.”

Johnson said as far as new sports, sand volleyball, which has shown up on the NCAA’s list of emerging sports, might be considered.

She couldn’t say whether it would be softball, sand volleyball, or something else because the administration is waiting for the equestrian program to develop.

“We need to evaluate the needs of the athletic department and what women on campus might be interested in, and then make a decision from there,” Johnson said. “If we are approached about students with suggestions about sports they’d like to see on campus, we’d be more than happy to hear those suggestions.”