This article has been updated with information from CCHS Baseball Coach Dave Prichard.
Parents of the Cumberland County High School Lady Jets softball team want their players to have a dedicated indoor facility where they can practice in the winter months leading up to their season in March.
“In times past, they have practiced in the CCHS gym, the top of the CCHS gym or in the Phoenix gym,” Amy Houston, mother of two players on the team, told the building and grounds committee of the Cumberland County Board of Education last week. “We do not currently have a practice facility that is solely for them.”
But the CCHS baseball team does have an indoor practice facility, paid for by boosters. Coach Dave Prichard told the Chronicle the softball team is allowed to use it when it is not in use by the baseball team. He added the softball team was invited to join in the effort financially when the baseball boosters began working toward building the facility.
"Even so, we continue to allow them to use our facility," he told the Chronicle.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex-based discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal funding.
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance,” the law states.
Houston said, “We’re asking you to help us with this facility.”
Using the gym at CCHS or Phoenix school has led to conflicts in scheduling with basketball, volleyball and archery teams needing to use the space, as well. At CCHS, the team is limited in what they can use for practice to protect the floor.
“It’s hard to share facilities,” Houston said.
Betty Hester, player, said “When we’re at CCHS, we’re not allowed to throw real balls or slide. The top is the only place for pitching practice.”
The team starts conditioning in October and begins practicing batting, pitching and other skills in February. The middle school team is playing now.
The boosters hold a variety of fundraisers during the year, like the popular Boston Butt sale twice a year.
“The boosters supply a lot of things that are needed,” Houston said. “We sponsor the middle school team and a summer camp. We supply the equipment. We do the field maintenance. We buy their first aid kit supplies.”
The list comes to $54,803 in direct support to the high school and middle school teams over the past four years.
“We have done fundraiser after fundraiser trying to get the money to build this facility, but we cannot do it alone,” Houston said. “We have money there, but we don’t have enough to do the facility itself.”
At Stone Memorial High School, the softball and baseball teams share an indoor practice facility.
Scott Maddox, supervisor of Career and Technical and secondary education and former principal at SMHS, said the boys baseball team had built an indoor practice facility that is shared with the softball team. The boys team was allowed to sell concessions and work the gate at softball games for two years, providing support from the girls team toward the project.
“The both have an interest in it,” he said. “They both use the facility.”
Jim Inman, 1st District representative, asked if Houston had designs for a proposed facility or an estimated cost.
The prior coach had been looking at a 40x60 building somewhere near the CCHS baseball and softball fields. The boosters have had trouble getting three bids to determine cost.
Director of Schools Ina Maxwell said there needed to be a schedule that allowed all teams to access practice facilities.
Inman said that could work “in a pinch,” but said the best case scenario would be a facility for the girls team, as well.