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Matt Giles, a junior, watches swings at a ball thrown by head coach Dan Coburn during West High School's varsity baseball practice in Manchester on Tuesday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

Practice

Participation in high school sports dwindles at West High


Manchester West won’t be fielding a junior varsity baseball team this season.“We just don’t have the numbers to support one,” said first-year head coach Dan Colburn.

On Tuesday, after practice at the Charles Quinn Gym, Colburn said he had a total of 23 kids.

“I’m looking for 15 or 16 varsity players, which leaves me short on the JV level. I was hoping to get 30 kids out this season, but it’s not happening.”

The low turn-out at West is not earth-shattering news. It’s been a problem in many sports at West since Bedford built its own high school. West varsity baseball will be competing is Division II this season.

Colburn, a 1988 graduate of Laconia High who spent the last 14 seasons as a baseball assistant coach at Pinkerton Academy of Derry, said he has no regrets taking the West post.

“I want to be the one to rebuild this program,” he said. “I know it won’t be easy, but I’m going to try. So far I like the attitude I’m seeing from our kids. They love the game and want to play it. As a coach, that’s the type of attitude you want, especially to start the season.”

Unfortunately for West, Colburn said they don’t have a middle school feeder team. “The only feeder program is the Babe Ruth league,” he said.

The Manchester Babe Ruth League, according to league president Gary Ulbin, may not have enough players this summer to support the Ray LeBel Babe Ruth 13-year-old league.

Spring track and field head coach Leo Ducharme said Tuesday West had 16 athletes on its roster respectively for the boys’ and girls’ team. “We’re doing the best we can,” said Ducharme. “We obviously were hoping for a higher number, but I’m still happy coaching kids who want to learn. They’re all hard workers.”

At Memorial softball coach Erin Reilly said on Tuesday she had 24 kids try out for her team this season.“We lost some kids to track and lacrosse,” she said. “I wish we could have more players, but that’s not the case this year.”

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