Note: Yesterday, DrydenWire.com published a Letter-to-the-Editor (LTE) by Halea Fisher titled "Gender Discrimination In Spooner Youth Sports". You can read that HERE. DrydenWire.com also published the response to that LTE from Spooner Superintendent Dr. David Aslyn titled: "Spooner Superintendent Responds To Recent Letter To The Editor". You can read that HERE. Today, the author of the LTE has submitted a follow up to her original submitted post. You can read that below.
Letter To The Editor
by Halea Fisher
'Follow up on Girls' Youth Basketball'
I would like to thank the community for the many shares, reads, support, and other opinions that were given toward the last article. Regardless of opinions and views, it helped get the message across. I would also like to thank SASD for their response regarding finding volunteers. I do believe that some clarification is needed:
- The discrimination that was cited in the Letter to the Editor was that of refusing to hand out slips to girls. I do understand that volunteers are hard to come by, but if there is no communication and no other option for girls, they should be allowed to at least try out/join the existing basketball program. As stated, this matter has been litigated across the country numerous times in both school sponsored and youth sports.
- While I do understand that Lil’ Dribblers was a very large program and it was very hard to coach that many children, the cancellation of this program was not disclosed or explained to parents such as myself. The program just vanished. When the next season came around, many of us were surprised that there wasn’t a Lil’ Dribblers program. Then I was informed that it was a deliberate decision to get rid of Lil’ Dribblers to cut down on the number of students. Unfortunately, this led to cutting out one gender, the girls.
- The boys’ program started with also no communication to the parents of girls. As a parent of a girl, I was given no heads up that there was NOT going to be a girls’ program. Actually, that first year, I was under the assumption that none of the children had basketball, until half way through the boys’ season when I was told by another parent that the boys’ had a basketball program, but the girls didn’t. The next year, no communication again… until my daughter came home upset because they were handing out registration to only the boys. I was just informed that last minute after inquiry that “It’s not our problem” or “I don’t have any information” and later on progressed to: If you wanted a girls’ team, you should consider coaching or “It’s up to the varsity coaches”. Although the school doesn’t financially support this program, it does hold as a center point for community education currently.
- We do not know that there are resources needed for these programs or what programs there are if there is no communication. Currently, there is no community education department; our only point of contact is through the elementary office for basketball. Resources such as volunteers and coaches require planning ahead. Programs such as Spooner Youth Baseball have always been very good about communication and having separate contact points than the school along with separate meetings to determine resources.
I would like to thank Spooner School District and Principal Hopke for all of the effort put into creating this last minute program that is coming available soon. Several teachers, members of the community, myself and my husband have volunteered to coach and help out. At this time, I was updated that the only hold up is attempting to get gym time, but this should be resolved soon. My hope is that something positive comes out of this. We will be attending the school board meeting to bring up the following possible solutions:
- Creating a committee or at very least a meeting to decide what community/youth sports are going to be happening each year and have a designated point of contact for these activities. It also allows us to evaluate as a community on what areas are lacking (such as girls basketball) and make this public to the parents. When a program such as Lil’ Dribblers gets cancelled, we need to have the time to plan accordingly. This also gives these community sports leaders/the community on what resources are needed to make this happen. Spooner school states that they do not sponsor school sports until 7th grade. That leaves grades K-6 that need coaching. They don’t deserve to go without because we can’t figure out how to communicate. I have seen many other smaller school districts with more successful youth sports programs. And having successful youth programs generally turns into more successful varsity programs. In the future, with communication, we should be able to avoid this situation, whether it be outspoken parents or parents grumbling in the background.
- Consider how we’re are dividing these kids. This division of boys and girls is the biggest part that struck a chord with many. I am not opposed to the girls being on one team and the boys being on another, but… wouldn’t this make more sense to divide into grades. If you have children K-3rd grade, there is a very large difference is skill level. Dividing into grades allows children to play with other children of a similar skill set. There are also programs such as RBA (Rookie Basketball Association) that allow boys and girls to play together, dividing them up into teams (very similar to how Spooner Youth Baseball does) and have them play games once a week. In my opinion, this is more beneficial to improving the skills of our children.
Again, regardless of everyone’s opinions, I thank you for taking the time to read and share my initial letter to the editor. Parent’s keep your eyes peeled for sign up sheets.