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Girls' Sports Program Growing Leaps And Bounds

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When was the last time you heard the cheerleaders cheering and the high school bands turning out for the victorious varsity girls' volleyball team? The last time you heard about the star pitcher on the girls' baseball team signing on as a "bonus baby" with the pros at some fantastic price? Or the star center on the girls' basketball team being courted with offers of profitable athletic tenders by every university in the Big Ten? Well, that's not exactly the atmosphere that Huron High School girls' sports directors Kay Sprague and Pat Kollen, have in mind for their fast-growing interscholastic sports program. But the two women do make a strong argument that girls' sports have for far too long been neglected in the hoopla and publicity that surrounds high school (and college) athletic programs for; boys. If participation in a well-structured program of interscholatic sports competition is as enriching as is generally claimed for the boys, they would say, then girls, too, deserve more than the; cheerleading slots or the use öf the facilities for intramural play at whatever odd times the boys don't happen to be u&ing them. Mrs. Sprague and Mrs.Kollen do firmly believe that athletic competitioñ can contribute iq important ways to the development of a healthy personality. Among the values that participation in sports can help to build, they include: learning to appraise your own behavior objectively and accept just criticism; learning to show appreciation for other members of a group; learning to accept responsibility and make necessary decisions without dodging or looking for shortcuts; and learning to set and work to achieve goals in line with your own capabilities. When the girls program was started at Huron High in 1969-70, there was an intramural Girls' Athletic Club (GAC) with six members, aboüt 20 girls participating in three interscholastic swimming meets, and little else. That year they added a volleyball team (six girls, one game) and a basketball team (eight girls, two games). Since then the program has literally grown by leaps and bounds. This year's schedule includes 72 interscholastic meets in eight sports - swimming and diving, field hockey, tennis, volleyball, gymnastics, basketball, softball and track and field. More than 190 girls have participated in the five sports which have already begun practices or finished their seasons, and the coaches are expecting nearly 100 girls to turn out for the first scheduledbasketbalractice The program has not attracfed all the] trappings and atterition that surround f the long-established boys' program, but!v that is no accident. "The boys have some problems we feel we should try to avoid," says Mrs. Kollen. "There's too often an all-out, ' any-cost philosophy tha we just don't buy, and that may really interfere with the values that a sports program is intended to build. Many of the schools we compete against are very oriented to following the boys' model. "A lot of women - a lot of men, too - are hung up about what's really important," she says. "We think our model should emphasize what's important." Their guiding philosophy is to build a program "in which each participant can satisfy her curiosity about her role in sports, get qualified help in developing her sports skills and, from adults and other participants, get a glimpse of how sports can enrich one's life. Each participant should be able to find within the program whatever sports she wants, and as much activity as she wants." The two directors have developed several practical guidelines for implementing this type of program. First, there is a "no cutting" policy. "Every girl who comes out has a place to play, in line with the level of her skills and the amount of time she wants to devote," says Mrs. Sprague. Whenever there is sufficient interest, varsity, junior varsity, extramural and "Intramürai teams are fielded in each sport. Varsity and junior varsity teams play a schedule of six to 10 games or meets against other schools. They practice as often as four times a week during the pre-season and on off-days during the season. Extramural teams for girls who have less time to devote to sports but still want some competition - play a limit of three other schools. They practice less often and are not required to take the physical examination or meet the eligibility requirements for varsity and junior varsity play. The intramürai teams do not compete against other schools. "In the boys' program they've lost a lot of kids," says Mrs. Kollen. "The ones who don't like school, do like sports, but may not have a sufficient level of skill to make the varsity." Mrs. Sprague cites the example of a deaf girl attending the public schools for the first time this year who carne out for the tennis team in the fall. She also had difficulties with eye-hand coordination and had never held a tennis racket in her hand before. But she practiced with the team and traveled to all the meets. Opponents from other schools were found for her J at each meet. When she filled out the evaluation ■ lorm at the end of the season, the girl I wote: "I really appreciate the chance M to be part of a group. The sense of ■ belonging was something I'd never had I before." The directors say that their goal to I provide "as much activity as the girl I wants" also means that the students I should not be pressured by adults to I ticipate beyond their own interest. The I choice to "stay in" an activity or to I "drop out" should be a personal decisión I on the part of the participant, they add. I The directors see the role of adults in I the program as "enablers": providing a I field to play on, guaranteeing fair and I safe practices under which to compete I and "being equally available to all girls I for coaching help. Another of the guidelines is to hire a I large number of part-time coaches, I thereby spreading salaries around, so I that there is enough coaching available I for every participant. One of the inequities in budgeting I tween the girls' and boys' programs I now, Mrs. Kollen notes, is in coaching I salaries. "We aren't asking for higher I individual salaries," she says. "But. we I would like to have an equal amount of I money to hire more coaches for I dividual teams." There are now about 20 adults involved I with the program this year, 10 of them I coaches who are paid $500 for nine I weeks (100 hours) of work. Some are I members of the school faculty, others I are drawn from the University of I igan and the community. I "Part of our philosophy has been to I try and get women coaches, to give I them a chance to improve their skills I and the quality of personnel in I this whole field," says Mrs. Kollen, I cause there just isn't much being done I at teacher training schools in the way of I training women as coaches." The third guideline of the program is I that it should be "something that comes I from the students." "We don't want this to be I oriented. We want to delégate a lot of I f authority. A lot of them can handle it," I she says, "although of course, there are I I some who would rather not. "If the girls feel that they want or I need a certain activity, then we try to I ! fill it. For instance, if they should come I to us and say they want a golf team, I then it's our job to hire a coach and I range playing facilities and meets and so I I on." The growth in the number of sports I fered_and the sustained interest of the I CONTD. ON NfiXT Aüü


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