Girls’ sports classes added to curriculum

Addition of girls’ soccer and softball classes follow Title 9 requirements

For the first time, Oak Park High School girls’ soccer and softball teams have sports classes incorporated into their schedules.

These classes follow Title 9 requirements of the California constitution, which states that “all persons, regardless of their gender, should enjoy freedom from discrimination of any kind in the educational institution of the state.”

“We wanted to give equal benefits to both boys and girls,” Principal Kevin Buchanan said. “We’ve made concerted efforts to address any equity issues that we felt might exist with that.”

In addition to promoting gender equality, the sports classes will give student-athletes extra time for training, practice and homework during their seasons.

“We used to do a lot of fall training once or twice a week, but it was kind of hard to get kids together in the afternoons,” P.E. teacher and head girls’ soccer coach Kathryn Klamecki said. “The class now gives us time for the kids to train and be together.”

Buchanan hopes that adding these classes will help benefit students’ mental health as well.

“We want to try to add sports classes whenever it makes sense for our school, just because it seems to alleviate a lot of stress for kids,” Buchanan said. “It makes the day goes a lot quicker if they have a fifth-period athletic class instead of having to wait and practic[e] after school.”

Before classes were implemented, both teams held team practices after school. With the addition of the sports classes, teams are now able to take advantage of the extra practice time to help prepare for the season.

“We’ve been kind of at a disadvantage compared to the other schools, where they all have athletic classes and we don’t,” Assistant Principal Jason Meskis said. “They just have [had] more time to practice than we do before the seasons begin.”

The girls’ soccer class is scheduled during sixth period in the fall semester and the softball class will be during fifth period in the spring semester. Both classes are only for varsity teams due to field and coaches’ availability.

“It’s hard to get coaches that don’t work on campus here at [the time of the class period],” Klamecki said. “My frosh-soph coach is a teacher at Medea, so it would be impossible for her to be here at [1:00 p.m.].”

Although there are many who feel that the sports classes benefit students, there are several disadvantages that have been brought up in discussions about the addition of the classes, as well.

“One of the issues we had is that because we’re such an academic school, a lot of kids have a hard time fitting that class in their schedule,” Meskis said. “Hopefully, with the differences in the credits and with the graduation requirements, that helps and makes it easier for kids to fit [the class] in.”

Varsity softball head coach Harold Hale expressed the same concern.

“The softball class may prevent a student from selecting another elective,” Hale wrote to the Talon.

Weather plays another role in the athletes’ performance.

“In August it’s pretty warm out, so trying to keep them motivated to getting started training this early in the season would be a con,” Klamecki said. “But, we have big goals this season, so, for the most part, it’s all positive and the girls are really excited to have it.”

Despite some disadvantages, sophomore Emma Rale expressed her opinion on the benefits of having the soccer class.

“I really like how the soccer class is during the school hours in comparison to being after school, leaving me more time to do homework after school,” Rale said. “It’s also helped my teammates and me bond and become closer.”

Senior Tay Spralding also stated her hopes for the softball class next semester.

“I am extremely excited to have softball as a class next semester,” Spralding wrote. “I think it is a great way to prioritize a sports class as much as an academic class. Also, ending at an earlier time allows my teammates and I to focus on our classes and homework.”

Although girls’ soccer and softball classes were added, a girls’ basketball class is not available due to gym time conflicts.

“The issue is that with the gym, every sixth period there’s volleyball in there and every fifth period there’s [boys’] basketball in there. So, there’s not another space to practice,” Meskis said. “Now having the boys during that time does free up the gym, and having volleyball the second day does allow more flexibility with the gym time.”

However, sports such as cross country are better suited for after school practices rather than sports classes, according to sophomore Sara Tsai.

“Our team is really big and we all have different schedules. If we did have a cross country class, a lot of us probably would not be able to it or need to take on a zero or give up classes we want in order to [take the class],” Tsai said. “I feel like it would be better if we just stuck with practice after school because we have more freedom.”

According to Klamecki, her team is optimistic about the season ahead.

“The girls are really excited for this class to put in extra work because we have a really strong team this season,” Klamecki said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully being pretty successful.”