School Reverses Decision: American Legion Team Can Play Ball In 2018

Officials at Corinth Holders High School have changed their minds and will allow Clayton American Legion to host a Legion ball team at the school in 2018.

Legion Post 71 had sponsored an 18-member legion baseball team for high school students in 2016 and 2017.  They recently had trouble getting any response to emails sent to Corinth High athletic director Alison Vetterl. Finally, on Nov. 3rd, Vetterl rejected the request based on discussions with school leaders.

“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 why, Vetterl send a second email saying, “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!”

Raymond Payne, a member of the American Legion, said the organization has paid $500 each year for use of the ball field for a 10-game season and always try and leave the facilities in better condition than when they arrived.  He also said other athletic events are held on the fields during the same time period and asked if those organizations were also being denied access in 2018.

Payne told WTSB News, Principal Robert Daniels requested a meeting on Tuesday with J. Ryan Sikes, a legion representative, the same day our news story aired.

In a prepared statement to WTSB News on Wednesday, Crystal Kimpson Roberts, Chief of Communication and Engagement wrote, “Johnston County Public Schools appreciates the opportunity to share resources with our communities, and the American Legion is no exception. At press time, a meeting had been scheduled, was subsequently held, and issues were resolved. We are pleased that we have worked through this misunderstanding and that the American Legion will be utilizing the baseball field this spring and summer.”

Payne countered that there never was a misunderstanding, the group was told no.  He says media publicity created by the WTSB News story is the only reason legion ball will be played in 2018.

Roberts called the incident a misunderstanding.

“The misunderstanding stemmed from the fact that we have a process for reviewing applications. As a practice, acceptance and denial are documented via the application versus email, which is the reason we felt compelled and obligated to start from the beginning and hold a face-to-face meeting,” Roberts said in an email to WTSB.

Payne disagreed. He said the American Legion had filled out an application in 2016 but was told not to in 2017 and to email to schedule a meeting first.

Regardless, Payne said the veterans group can now move forward with plans for an 18-member legion team to play at Corinth Holders High .  The team will pull players from Corinth Holders, Clayton, North Johnson and West Johnston High Schools.

Roberts confirmed the American Legion will again have to pay $500 to use the fields this year.

In an email, Corinth Holders High Assistant Athletic Director Jeffrey Parker accused WTSB News and the Clayton American Legion of being untruthful about the field controversy.  “I feel there needs to be some kind of retraction.”

“I don’t see any of you out here at midnight working on these fields so they can look the way they do. Can’t even get you out to support the athletes during their events and yet you are slamming people and schools for something you know nothing about. Never see any of you volunteering to help at events, but yet you feel like you have some say in what happens. There were also others schools that were asked and turned them down but you don’t care. Get all the facts and not just what you read or hear from one side. If you would like to discuss this personally, you can find me at almost all school functions. Please stop and say hello and we will discuss any issues or concerns you may have. And to the people that are calling and leaving harassing messages for the AD, please leave a name you cowards,” Parker wrote in a Disqus comment on the WTSB website.



  1. Uh oh! Sounds like the people who get a $150K salary for making bad decisions don’t like having to answer for those bad decisions.

    ‘magine dat!

  2. Sounds like the school is covering up and making excuses. Rotten politics playing here. Our Legion has a baseball team and there’s good rapport.

  3. I am an athletic director in Wake County and my son plays baseball at Corinth Holders and Sr. Legion baseball with the Garner team. The solution here is simple. Why not just use the Clayton High field? It is my understanding that most of the players come from Clayton High anyway. The coaches at Clayton should welcome the team since it is benefitting them directly by giving their players a place to play. West Johnston, North Johnston, SSS? I hate to throw them into the controversy, but see what luck you have trying to get the Cleveland field.
    From the original article:
    “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.”
    The team from Clayton was a Junior Legion team, not a Senior Legion team. Are they going to drop their Jr. team and start a Sr. team or have teams in both divisions? If they have both, are both teams going to play at Corinth Holders?
    Corinth Holders, Princeton also, players already play with the Garner Sr. Legion team and they are not leaving that team to play with Clayton, so this article is incorrect. North Johnston players have been playing with the Wilson legion team.
    The Garner team had to play all 30+ games, not a 10 game schedule, on the road in the summer of 2016 because no school would allow them to play on their field. Corinth Holders High is not the bad guy here. This is a tough subject everywhere and for everyone trying to field a non-school team.
    It seems a bit unethical to go running to the media when you don’t get your way without looking at other alternatives. American Legion is a great organization and all schools should give them a place to play.

    • Clearly based upon your lengthy statement here, you do not understand the rules that govern American Legion Baseball. Let me see if I can shed some light on the situation for your understanding-

      I will agree with you on one thing that was said: The team that has played in Johnston County for the last two years (2016 & 2017) is a Junior Legion baseball team. We plan to continue to have a Junior Legion team. For 2018, we plan to create a Senior Legion team. We plan to do this for specific reasons- 1. Utilize the Junior team to feed the Senior team later in time. 2. To provide an alternative to showcase baseball at a reduced cost. 3. Increase the level of talent for baseball for Johnston County.

      Now, for clarification purposes, here is the deal with Garner’s Legion team: they are not a sanctioned American Legion Baseball program. While the State of North Carolina American Legion Baseball has to recognize them as being a Legion team because they pay their fees to participate; they are not affiliated with an American Legion Post. Therefore, they are not allowed to compete past the State of North Carolina American Legion Baseball Tournament. If they win the State tournament, the runner-up and third place teams go to the National Tournament in Shelby instead of Garner. These are bi-laws within the American Legion National Post out of the National office in Indiana. This is the reason that they are called the Garner Nationals, and not a Post number team.

      Your comments about us not looking for an alternative site is a baseless argument. The Post is in Clayton. That plays to which schools are allowed to be our base schools. The closest schools are Clayton High School, Corinth Holders High School, Cleveland High School, and South Johnston High School. Specifically, we have to utilize the schools that are closest to the post we are at. In addition, we have to live by these rules:

      A.- Proximity to our Post

      B.- Have a population(s) that do not exceed 5,000 students total within a specific number of schools included

      C.- Have schools within a certain number of miles between other Legion Baseball teams

      We cannot seek alternative sites because what are considered to be our base schools. It makes more sense for us to utilize the schools with the larger school sizes because it increases the likelihood of having better talent. Which would give our county Legion teams a more competitive advantage. If we play at a different location for the purpose to seek an alternative site, that effectively will change our base schools. Essentially that option is out because of the rules.

      Now, Clayton High School is a base school of ours. The point you made about using Clayton High School is what we are wishing to use in the future for our home field for the Senior team. However, after a large donation this year from a former player, Clayton High School’s baseball field is going to undergo a significant renovation. This renovation is likely to take all summer long, and will lead us to play at another school temporarily for this summer while still utilizing a base school. Also, it would be impossible to have two teams use the same fields. The wear and tear alone would be enough to discourage this activity.

      You made an incorrect statement about players who played for Garner in the past. By Post 71 placing an affiliated team within Johnston County, we essentially erase Garner’s ability to recruit players from our base schools. If Garner was affiliated with an American Legion Post, they’d have first right of refusal. However, since they are not, all players from that base school could only play for Post 71’s team. That is, unless Post 71’s athletic officer grants a release to play. For the time being, if a player wishes to play with another team that they played for in the past, we are going to grant that players release. Only those players who played for a team prior to 2018’s Post 71 team being established will be granted that release. Otherwise, they will have a provide a reason for a release being granted. That is per American Legion National Rules.

      Another incorrect statement is the amount of games that are played. For the record, the team’s manager and Legion Athletic Officer are responsible for making the schedule. Garner’s schedule was increased to that size by the coaching staff, not by the American Legion Baseball Program. The requirements for Legion baseball is to play and count only your conference games. Any games outside of that requirement are just exhibition games, and count for nothing. When you look at the records for teams within the American Legion National tournament, those records indicate their conference numbers. Not extra games tacked onto the season for fluff. In a normal conference, there are usually 10 teams that you are required to play either one or two times. Just simple math: 10-1 (your team) = 9 x 2= 18 required games. Half of those games are played at home, and the other played away. Being that 18/2 is 9, the article is pretty spot on with the estimate of the requirements of home games. If Garner played 30+ games, that’s their teams decision, not what is required.

      Lastly, the school was 100% at fault here. We are tied to the rules that govern the organization. We cannot seek another location because of what has been in place for 2 years prior. We are doing our due-diligence, but for you to say it is unethical for us to seek the help of the media is a narrow view. In the past, we have had issues within the County to secure a field. Each year it has been something different. Each year we have had issues with trying to get a clear detail of how to go about asking for the field. For three years straight, we have had to fight the system. If this was the first time, I’d agree with you. But, clearly you do not understand the rules of American Legion Baseball, and also do not understand the challenges we have faced with just trying to play baseball. We are all unpaid volunteers that want to give young men a good place to play baseball. We are not seeking to make a bit of money. We ultimately are trying to do the right thing. Not trying to seek your or anyone else’s approval. But we felt like it was to the benefit of the community to know what the dealings are like for an organization like ours when we try to communicate with a public-school system. At this point, with the facts that are presented, it is hard for someone not to have a black eye. I just don’t see American Legion wearing that black eye because we are trying extremely hard to do the right thing.

      I hope this clears up any misinformation you may have.

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