School Refuses American Legion Team Access To Ball Field

Members of a local American Legion organization are crying “foul” after being told they are no longer welcome at a local high school.

American Legion Post 71 in Clayton has sponsored an American Legion baseball team at Corinth Holders High for the last two years.  Veterans at the legion post say they have never had a problem or any issues at the school until now.  When they asked recently for permission to use the Corinth Holders baseball field for the 2018 season they waited weeks for an answer. Finally, they were told no.

Athletic Director Emails
WTSB News has obtained copies of several emails sent to Alison Vetterl, the Athletic Director at Corinth Holders High. In an October 19 email, a Legion representative, J. Ryan Sikes, asked Coach Vetterl for a meeting to discuss using the fields in 2018 and find out if there would be any changes from the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

When the Legion had not heard back from Coach Vetterl in a week, a follow up email was sent on October 26th to her requesting a meeting with athletic officials and the principal.  Later that day, Vetterl replied, “Thank you, I will let you know. I have to touch base with my principal.”

After waiting another week without a meeting date, the Legion rep emailed Vetterl on Nov. 2nd for a third time requesting a meeting.

Finally, the next day, on Nov. 3rd Coach Vetterl emailed the Legion saying, “In discussing with our Principal, Mr. Daniels, Head Baseball Coach , and myself, we feel that during the summer time months we try do the field maintenance, and repairs, etc. It would also very difficult to have an administrator on duty during those times. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you.”

When pressed for a specific reason the American Legion was being rejected for use of the fields, Vetterl replied on Nov. 3rd, “Rather what has been done in the past, we have based our decision on what is now best for our students and our facilities.  Thank you for your time!”

Still seeking more information about why they were told no, Vetterl wrote in a Nov. 6th email, ”Sorry…but Mr. Daniels and myself feel that it is in the best interest of Corinth Holders High School that we decline to use of our facilities at this time.”

American Legion Pays, Others Don’t
Raymond Payne, a member of the Clayton American Legion, said the organization has paid Johnston County Schools $500 each year for use of the Corinth ball fields and often times leaves them in better shape than before the game began.

“The field is left in great shape. We drag it after the games,” Payne told WTSB. “We blow off the stands with blowers to rid it of debris. We take good care and leave it better than it was found.”

Payne contends other athletic grounds use ball fields at Corinth Holders school during the summer months and are not required to pay a fee.  They also don’t leave it like it was found.

“Other fields are being used by groups and the school is not being paid by them we’re told,” he said. “They don’t blow off the stands.”

If maintenance and repairs are issues in the summer, will the other teams also be prohibited from using the fields in 2018? Payne said he wants to know but can’t get any answers.  That’s why he called WTSB.

WTSB News has made a Public Records Request to Johnston County Schools for information about all the groups that use the fields and who does and does not pay. We’ve also asked if other athletic groups who share the same field with American Legion last summer are also being prohibited from using the fields in 2018.  So far, Johnston County Schools has not provided us any answers.

Student Threatened
Payne said he believes most of the athletic officials, including Corinth baseball coach Adam Weaver, are supportive of the American Legion but for some reason a few at the school are against the Legion Post 71 group.

Payne said the 18 member senior Legion Team would pull students from Corinth, Clayton, West Johnston and North Johnston High Schools to play a 10-game season beginning next May.  The legion team has been so successful they would like to start an 18 member junior team in 2018.

Payne said the real losers are the 36 youth who will miss out on Legion baseball in 2018.

Payne said he received a report last Wednesday from a potential high school player that if they signed up for 2018 American Legion baseball they would be dropped from their high school baseball team. Payne said it is one thing to deny the American Legion use of a field but another to coerce kids not to play legion ball.

Payne said he was involved with American Legion baseball when he lived in Maryland and school leaders there were always accommodating and helpful.

WTSB News reached out to Johnston County School officials for their side of the story on Nov. 9th. We have yet to hear back from officials for a comment.

As a side note, Allison Vetterl, the Athletic Director and soccer coach at Corinth Holders was recognized by the Johnston County School Board in June as the NC Soccer Coach of the Year.