Last season the Bears were off to a 1-4 start before disbanding the team and forfeiting their final nine games.
"Three years ago we had two full teams and had to make cuts,'' Menlo-Atherton athletic director Paul Snow said. "But we didn't have a lot of experience, so we struggled. Last year was a perfect storm. We started with 13 to 14 players, lost three to grades and two more to injury. We were down to nine and not all were available every day.''
High school athletics on the super-affluent mid-Peninsula are, on the whole, in a state of extreme health. Which makes the condition of softball highly ironic. Neither Menlo School nor Sacred Heart Prep, the two pricey private high schools in Atherton, offer softball. And for all the success Menlo-Atherton, with its 2,500 students, has had in most sports, the 2019 season concluded with nine players left in the softball program.
"It's crazy,'' Snow said. "We've got more golfers than softball players. Badminton had 60, tennis is overflowing.''
The advent of lacrosse has had a huge impact locally. In an interview conducted five years ago with Frank Rodriguez, at the time the athletic director at Sacred Heart Prep, he pointed at his school's burgeoning girls lacrosse program as the reason why SHP no longer had softball.
"There is no local feeder program for softball while there is for lacrosse,'' Snow said. "Girls we get with any softball experience played in Palo Alto or Redwood City. There's nothing at our middle schools.''
Snow said he does not want M-A to go down the path the two other Atherton high schools, Menlo and SHP did, and eliminate softball.
"We're trying to provide a lot of support, trying to get parents to help out like they do in other sports,'' Snow said. "We think Steven Griggs is the coach we need to help turn this program around.''
Griggs has multiple stops on his resume over 25 years in the North Coast Section and with travel ball teams.
"I love coaching and I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity to build and grow the softball program at M-A,'' Griggs stated in the school's press release. "I look forward to instructing and guiding the players to not only be great softball players, but also to be better teammates, smarter student athletes, and most importantly better people."
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