HAYWARD (KPIX 5) — The field at Tennyson High School is anything but level if you ask the girls who play softball there.
“How are we able to continue softball and if we don’t have enough money to have a good field, or equipment? It doesn’t make sense, because boys are definitely not better than girls,” said 10-year-old softball player Ashley Sinn.
Female athletes say the field is so dry and there are cracks so deep that many of them have gotten injured. They say even their equipment is moldy because they can’t store it properly.
“When I look at the baseball field, it looks all nice and the softball field, it’s like there’s cracks in it. And I’m like, ‘We should be treated equally,'” said 11-year-old softball player Roxanne Alfaro.
Coaches refiled their complaint against the Hayward Unified School District for sex discrimination in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. They originally filed last fall and came to a settlement agreement in February, but they claim the district has made inadequate improvements to sports fields.
They also say the girls locker room is always closed, and there is often only one bathroom open.
“When you walk into the girls’ bathroom, if it’s open, there’s a tank with water, and it constantly leaks, so the floors are completely wet, and we’re forced to change in there and it’s just really disgusting,” said 16-year-old softball player Kayla Birdsell.
The team also said trees have came down during practice.
“There’s no toilet paper, there’s no soap, there’s no paper towels, them having to change in the bathrooms, and the boys get to change in a locker room, I just don’t feel that’s fair,” said parent Pam Birdsell.
The district said in a statement to KPIX 5:
“We are saddened that some students feel they are being treated unfairly and we will continue to work with students, families, and staff to make sure their concerns are heard and to encourage all of our students to thrive in the extracurricular activities of their choice.”
They also said in the statement that neither the softball field nor the baseball field at Tennyson High School were included in a 2014 bond that renovated many facilities at all three of the district’s high schools.
Longtime coach Gabriel Hernandez says the fields simply aren’t safe.
“Someone’s gotta give these girls a voice, and someone’s eventually gotta listen to them, and so if that’s me and coach and doing what we gotta do, if it costs us our jobs, then whatever. Bottom line, someone’s going to listen to these girls at some point,” said Hernandez.
The district also said that an unrelated and customary federal audit recently done by the State Department of Education found the district and its facilities are in compliance with Title IX.