Deconstructing the Divison

Bryce Mandala, Sports Editor

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In the U.S., Title IX is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. In our school system in a more simple explanation, for every extracurricular opportunity that’s given to boys or girls, that same number of opportunities is required to be given to the other gender.

For example, this Spring at GCHS, the athletics department is introducing Boys Lacrosse and Girls Badminton as sponsored sports.

A lot more goes into introducing a new sport than you may think.

In most cases, the sport has to start out as a club first and have a sustained level of popularity for a number of years. If that happens, the schools athletic department then has the option of moving that sport to the IHSA (Illinois High School Association) Approved Program, and that’s exactly what happened with Boys Lacrosse. It got approved and is now its own sanctioned sport at Grant taking place during the spring season.

Mr. Ross, the Head Athletic Director here at Grant talks about what has to happen following the introduction of a boys sport regarding Title IX, “In order to abide by all the Title IX rules, if we added a boys sport we had to add in a girls sport as well…so what happened was that we sent out an interest survey to all the students during their TEAM class asking what new sport they would want to see at Grant for both girls and boys. Boys Lacrosse, of course was the number one sport for boys, and for girls it was Badminton.”

Essentially, the Athletic Department didn’t just choose those sports for us, we took a poll and that’s what we, as students voted on as a whole.

Since Girls Badminton wasn’t already a pre-existing club, the way it’s going to operate is going to be a little different than other sports. Mr. Ross touches on that as well, “Girls Badminton will start out as a pilot program since it wasn’t a club previously, and has to sustain itself for a number of years before it becomes a full-fledged IHSA sport.”

So Girls Badminton will still play organized games against opposing schools, but needs to have pronounced popularity before it becomes official.

The Head Varsity Coach for Boys Lacrosse will be Mr. Christian, and Girls Badminton has yet to be decided.

Some other ground-breaking news in our school, for the first year ever, girls have their very own division within our wrestling program. Historically, when girls wrestled at the high school level, they would have to match up against other boys, which wasn’t the most ideal situation as far as competing goes and ultimately caused them to lose interest for the sport altogether. This year however, that’s not the case, girls will be competing against other girls.“This year the IHSA has officially sanctioned Girls Wrestling as an emerging sport where they compete against other girls, and they’re working right now towards getting their own state tournament and having it be its own legitimized, accredited sport within the IHSA.” quotes Mr. Grodoski, Head Varsity Wrestling Coach.

Not only has Grant got on board with Girls Wrestling, but so have some of the “higher level” wrestling programs in the area, and some states already have a state tournament.

Mr. Grodoski speaks on how other schools are pushing towards having their very own Girls division, “Right now there’s a committee that’s working to get this approved by the IHSA as a state-wide sanctioned sport. There are coaches who have committed who are for girls wrestling and said they’ll have girls on their team that will compete…there’s about 70 or so people that have joined, and I’m sure there are more who are on board, but just haven’t joined the committee yet. We have seven girls on our roster currently that have come out, and I know Stevenson and schools like that have a lot on their roster as well.”

Sophomore female wrestler, Citlalli Salas-Abrego recently moved from from Atlanta, Georgia just this year and was involved in the wrestling program at her old school, but wasn’t aware that this was the official inaugural year for Girls Wrestling in Illinois. “When I came here at the beginning of the school year I was notified that it was the first year in Illinois and I was very shocked, because in Georgia they’ve been doing it for awhile and it’s pretty common there.”

Citlalli also talks about what it’s like to be a minority in a male-dominant sport. “In practice when I wrestle guys, I do feel like I fit in, and I put in as much effort as they do. I bring to the mat, the same ambition to win and the same ambition to show that I’m strong and empowering.”