Cut Girls’ Sports? Not on Her Watch!
High school junior Cathryn Garrett is an athlete. “Sports are my outlet,” she told us in a recent interview. “I love that being on a sports team [allows you] to be with girls you don’t usually hang out with, have fun outside, and learn things about life you don’t learn in school.” For two years she played on both the lacrosse and soccer teams at her small high school. So when she learned earlier this year that her school planned to cut the girls’ lacrosse team, she couldn’t believe it. “It really bothered me that it was going to be taken away when so many girls I know would benefit from it,” she said. Eliminate the girls’ lacrosse team? “I wasn’t going to let that happen.”
Garrett asked the school’s athletic director about the rumored cut, and he told her that there wasn’t enough interest in the girls’ team to keep it around. “It’s not that he didn’t want the girls’ team to happen; he did. But someone had to take initiative and make the team happen.” Determined not to give up, she asked for help from Carole Rein, a teacher at the school and an AAUW North Shore (MA) Branch member (who later nominated Garrett as an AAUW Title IX Champion). Garrett wasn’t only concerned about the lacrosse team. In general “there was less interest in girls’ sports, and girls were frustrated.”
Rein suggested that Garrett go directly to the school’s administration with her concerns. Following that advice, Garrett made an appointment with an administrator. She explained her frustrations and her belief in the importance of girls’ sports. The administrator agreed wholeheartedly. With his support, Garrett rallied her teammates and other girls to sign up for the team — and it worked! “Girls realized the sport was going to be cancelled, and they didn’t want things to be unequal. People came on board, and we were able to keep the team going.”
To nominate a Title IX Champion send a summary of their Title IX work and a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It wasn’t just Garrett who was thrilled. Her teammates, some of them new players, were also excited. When the season ended, “Girls came up to me and told me, ‘We had so much fun — it really made us come out of our comfortable zones and do something different.’ Being part of that is what I love about sports,” said Garrett.
She’s not stopping there. In response to Garrett’s efforts, the school administration created a new committee charged with working on issues like increasing interest in girls’ sports. Garrett will serve on the committee next year. She’s looking forward to helping the community understand what school sports, and her school’s sports program in particular, have to offer. She’s also learned to appreciate the significance of a supportive school. “I’m lucky enough to go to a school that wants to help and wants to make things better. Everyone I met with was completely on my side and wanted to change the way people were feeling.”
Interested in education and business management (“Who knows?” she says. “Maybe I’ll coach one day!”), Garrett’s thinking ahead to college applications. Whatever path she chooses in the future, she’ll no doubt find herself in leadership roles again. “If you want to get something done in life, you have to be the one to do it. Being a leader, being the person people look to, is OK. That’s something I’ve learned I’m good at, and I want to continue to do it.” Cathryn, we’re behind you!