Tackling “Coed” Sports at DHS
This fall, Duxbury High School football players have broken up to coach teams of upperclassmen girls Powderpuff football. With the games just around the corner on November 21st, many girls at DHS have been eager and energized to practice once or twice a week, and play a sport they wouldn’t normally take part in.
The amount of excitement female athletes at DHS have to participate in Powderpuff begs the question: why don’t more girls play high school football?
Mr. Holdgate, the athletic director at DHS, said that if a girl wanted to tryout for the football team, the answer would of course be yes.
“It wouldn’t even be a question,” said Holdgate. “We have had a couple girls show interest but have never actually put on the pads.”
Lily W. a senior at DHS showed interest her sophomore fall in trying out for the football team as the kicker.
“Mr. Armandi, my eight grade history teacher, knew that I played soccer and loved football, and told me there was a kicker position open. That started the whole idea,” said Lily.
The seed was planted, and Lily began to consider what it would mean to be the only female athlete on the football team.
“I decided not to tryout because I felt that it would be embarrassing to start playing an all guys sport. I didn’t want to have to deal with that,” said Lily.
Along with negative social pressure, being the minority on a coed sports team poses obstacles of its own.
“Definitely some challenges would be the locker room atmosphere,” said Lily. “It would be weird for the guys to have a girl in their locker room but it would also be weird for a girl to be in a locker room with all guys. It would make all parties uncomfortable.”
McCian D. a senior football player at DHS, however, believes that having a girl on the team would make no difference to the culture of the sport.
“If a girl was on my team it wouldn’t affect me because if they’re good enough to make the team then they should play,” said McCian.
Holdgate was in agreement.
“If a girl showed that she’s good enough to start on a team, she’s starting. You’re not going to find a coach that would ever make their team weaker by not playing someone, whether it’s a girl or boy.”
McCian argued that having a girl on the team would strengthen her reputation rather than harm it.
“I think everyone would have more respect for female athletes,” said McCian. “I don’t think much else would change or that the coaches or players would act differently.”
Mr. Maimaron, the head football coach at DHS added, “I think kids these days are very accepting. Kids are more accepting with any kind of differences whether that’s gender or sexuality or race. Which I think is a great thing.”
Football does not stand alone. Many sports that do not have a team for both genders are subject to similar conversations. Volleyball, for example, is an all girl sport at DHS, but according to MIAA rules, it doesn’t have to be.
Many high school teams on the South Shore have coed volleyball teams. For those that do, there are certain restrictions that boys must follow to even the playing field.
Grace P, a senior volleyball player at DHS said, “There are constraints [to make the game fair] because usually boys can hit harder and jump higher. There’s no advantage or disadvantage of having a guy on the team.”
Charlie C. a senior at DHS was excited by the idea of playing on an all boys volleyball team at DHS. “I’ve always enjoyed watching volleyball. Every time we play in gym class it’s always really fun,” said Charlie.
When asked if he would be interested in playing on the current girls’ team, Charlie began to show doubts. “I think there’s something to be said for a girls team,” said Charlie. “I think it would be awkward on both sides, it would be better if there were separate teams so everyone felt comfortable.”
Although there is interest, and Holdgate and the girls volleyball coach are open to starting an all boys team at DHS, “Unless we get 10-12 boys we can’t really move forward with it. We’ve never had more than 5-6,” said Holdgate.
Times are changing and sports are following. Today, DHS has an all female volleyball team and an all male football team, but in the next decade it is likely that will change. With open minded administration, coaches and students, the barriers formed by stereotypes are bound to be broken.
Feature Image by Todd Maddock