The girls are all right.

Monday night, the Natrona County School District's board of trustees voted unanimously to formally support the creation of sanctioned girls fastpitch softball at the Natrona County and Kelly Walsh high schools.

The board will have Superintendent Steve Hopkins notify the Wyoming High School Activities Association about the intent for the teams to start in the spring of 2021.

Before the vote, trustee Dave Applegate successfully proposed an amendment that would ask the association to move on this as soon as possible.

During recent board meetings, scores of players, parents and coaches in local teams have attended to voice their support.

Bethany Gallegos and her father Joe Gallegos were among them, and he hugged her in the hall of the Central Services Facility after the vote.

Bethany, 11, pitches and sometimes catches for one of the four Rebels girls softball teams in Casper.

"I think that it's very great that they're getting softball into high schools," she said. "It will be a very good experience."

The Gallegos' have attended nearly all the school board meetings since January to support the softball proposal, Joe said.

As a side benefit, they often would stay after the board heard them and they learned something about how the district works, he said. "It's interesting, because after they talk about softball they start talking about the school system and everything else and you tend to pay attention and it's like, 'oh, I didn't know that.'"

In the agenda for Monday’s meeting, the board’s academic steering committee gave two reasons for the request:

There was one less female high school sport sanctioned in Wyoming school after gymnastics was removed years ago. The addition of fastpitch softball would equalize the number of sports sanctioned for females according to federal civil rights law Title IX.

The district conducted a survey in January and February that identified a significant interest in the sport among high school girls, and that interest could be sustained beyond the proposed start year of 2021.

Fastpitch softball would offer another extra curricular program for female athletes not participating in other sanctioned sports.

Other schools in the 3A and 4A classifications have also applied to the Wyoming High School Activities Association including Cody, Gillette, Green River, Powell and Rock Springs. Other communities are exploring the program, according to the agenda.

To offer a new sport, the association requires at least eight teams during a two-year trial period. A minimum of six teams must be sustained after two years.

While as many as 15 schools may interested, the association will need to further define the needs of the sport including physical facilities, equipment, budgets, coaching certification qualifications, officiating guidelines and competition categories.

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