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.