Reporters Sandra Rivadeneira and Julie Yu contributed to the article.
A study done by Athletic Business in 2017 found that a majority of the student body at Orchard Park High School believed that female athletes and their teams were not given the same necessities and appreciation as the male teams.
One of the students expressed that female athletes tend to lack recognition. She explained that it is common for boys teams to receive more equipment and attention for their successes. This caused females to think that guys had “more advantages and privileges than girls.”
This school along with many others face the problems that come with the lack of sports funding, as well as equality among the various sports and teams present in their athletic programs.
Prior to the interviews I conducted with many of the coaches at my school, I too was under the impression that not every team was given the same amount of attention and money towards their sport.
I now know that the matter of gender equality at Malden High is not an issue.
Malden High offers a variety of sports including some which are co-ed, consisting of both boys and girls. For many sports, the school even has different teams: Freshman, JV (Junior Varsity), and Varsity. Together, including the freshman and JV teams, Malden High offers 60 teams.
Budgeting for MHS Sports can become strenuous given the fact that the school offers such a variety of sports. It becomes tough to find the money for necessities ranging from equipment to team merchandise.
This being because certain sports require more equipment or field time in comparison to the other ones going on during their season.
I used to believe that sports such as the boys varsity football team at our school would be recognized and given more funding throughout their season compared to any of the other fall sports.
It made me upset to see them repping brand new “game day” shirts every Friday, or having to sit in the stands of a pep rally celebrating a team that could be sharing their glory with other sports that were doing just as good if not better than them.
I found that my emotions and feelings towards this subject were common among many other student athletes like me, therefore I made it my goal to educate myself on this topic and see where Malden High school stood with a matter such as sports funding and equality.
I went to our athletic director Charlie Conefrey and asked him various questions pertaining to how the budget for the multiple sports at our school is divided amongst every team and the efforts him and faculty members put into recognizing every athlete.
When asked about how the money is divided among every team Conefrey expressed that the city provides a portion of the money which is used to provide the necessities for sports. These necessities include equipment, jerseys, and uniforms which can be more expensive for some sports.
I learned how fortunate we are to have the athletic program that we do because students do not have to pay for the sport they desire to play, nor do they have to pay for necessities such as helmets, uniforms, and padding.
Conefrey stated that some schools require student athletes to pay user fees and buy their own equipment, meaning that if a family has a couple children,” each will have to pay, for example, $400 each. For families, $1200 for their kids to play a sport on the high school level is a lot,” Conefrey explained, “luckily, for us, the city supports the athletic program to have enough funding to update uniforms every couple of years, and have new equipment depending on the sport. Everything [students] need, depending on sports, can usually be provided.”
I also interviewed Varsity Girls Soccer Coach Rick Caceda.
When asked about fundraising and what his team does to obtain the extra merchandise such as team jackets and sweaters for the season, Caceda stated that “all their fundraised proceeds go towards gear/merchandise for the team members.”
Due to the tremendous efforts that the Girls Soccer team has put into fundraising, through car washes and participation in flea markets, they were able to make their personalized gear cheaper, reducing the price to $25.
Whereas other teams who have not done fundraisers during their sport season must pay the initial and more expensive price for their team to receive custom gear.
Caceda believed that the funding for sports teams were fair. He has “no complaints with the funding.” Caceda does not know how “the schools athletic budget is divided up but [the girls soccer team has] never really lacked anything.”
For extras, like the girl soccer personalized gear, Conefrey explained how “each team is left to choose for itself to fundraise for the extras.” However, he added that “if coaches say they are getting something but are three or four hundred dollars short,” he will find the money somehow because clearly the effort was put in.
Another source for a little extra money is their athletic booster club. The club does their own fundraisers, such as an annual bowling tournament, to support Malden High athletics when the city can't provide the funds.
As for the Boys Lacrosse Coach, Jonathan Copithorn, he explained that during his time as coach the team “never fundraised,” adding that any gear purchased for the team was paid for by money from the coaches. Despite the funding the varsity team that Copithorn coaches received hand-me-down equipment, and have yet to receive new helmets.
Copithorn expresses that he “never had any issue with funding in general.” However, one of his concerns was “only having money for a head coach and a JV coach, and recruiting assistant coaches is a big thing.”
Boys Varsity Soccer Coach Jeremiah Smith expressed similar concerns with the fact that he is not able to have a few more coaches on board with assisting him with his team.
For the most part, “the athletics department provides [student athletes] with all the equipment and uniforms [they] need,” stated Caceda. Any extras, such as team hoodies, and necessities that the team budget was not enough for, are covered by funds that the team raised.
I learned that equality among the teams in regards to money goes further beyond a set budget for every team. No team gets more than the other; they simply get what is necessary in order for their sport and team to succeed during their season.
I am very fortunate to go to a school that strives to equally represent all of their teams no matter what gender or level, and support them in every way possible in order to allow every student athlete to succeed.