The Southern Ohio Copperheads, a semi-pro baseball team based in Athens, announced Monday the team’s board had decided not to hold a 2021 baseball season.
Annie Valeant, vice president of operation, said the board made a decision that protected the players, fans, and student interns. She said the baseball team had been in contact with Ohio University and other organizations involved in The Copperheads program to see how they could make it work, but there were too many unknowns in the process.
“With so many unknowns, The Copperheads board voted to take the conservative approach with the idea it would give the team, staff and coaches to find a plan B,” Valeant said.
The Southern Ohio Copperheads are a semi-professional baseball team part of The Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, a 16-team league for college baseball players. In 2018, The Copperheads were the GLSCL league champions.
Valeant said The Copperheads are the first team in the league to decide not to hold a season.
“We pride ourselves as a community team, and as much as we wanted to make this work, safety was first and foremost,” Valeant said.
She said they were unsure they would be able to offer the same amenities they had offered in the past to coaches and players, including the visiting teams.
Valeant added the board wanted to ensure the 501c3 baseball team was financially viable into the future.
The Copperheads will be returning for a 2022 season, however — for its 20th season, Valeant said.
“We are coming back bigger and stronger than ever,” Valeant said.
The Copperheads is unique in that it is almost entirely student run. From the PA operator to ticket sales, students have traditionally operated Bob Wren Stadium in the Summer as part of an internship program.
Valeant said The Copperheads have given the selected student interns an opportunity to stay with the program for the summer, if they would choose.
While it won’t be the “traditional” experience, Valeant said, it will still offer the students an instructive experience.
She said The Copperheads’ goal this summer was to build brand awareness in the community and fundraise.
“At the end of the day we want to see this organization around for the long term,” Valeant said.