I went to a parent meeting last night to talk about the state of our high school girls basketball program. There was good news and bad news. Or not so much bad news, but news that we just have to accept now. That news is that as a public school, the parents and athletes are responsible for raising every single penny for our three programs; varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams. When I say every penny, I mean it. We have to buy uniforms, warm ups, bags, we rent the vans for away games, pay for gas, we even have to pay for lower-level coach salaries. Usually, they don't get paid at all. If you haven't heard, California is an absolute financial mess. The state of our state is carving deep, deep holes into public programs, especially schools. It's devastating. I live in a bourgie neighborhood too so I can't imagine how hard-hit neighborhoods are offering anything positive to kids. It's pretty much all grass roots and community support. I could spew a long, obvious rant about the ramifications of this, on our children, but I'll stay on topic.
The good news about our basketball program is that we're good. The varsity girls' team is getting recognition and is turning heads. We had a chance at state last season. Our star senior has already signed with UCLA; another to UC San Diego. When I used to play, the girls team was sequestered to the south gym, then called the girls' gym. We weren't even allowed to practice in the boys' cool gym. (This gym is where 17 Again was filmed, incidentally). But now, the school has relabeled the gyms North & South. Maya was confused (rightfully) when I, out of habit, called it the girls' gym. The girls' program used to play on different days and seemed completely separate from the boys program, but now the girls teams play before the boys games. I think that's sick. The crowds come for the girls and stay for the boys. We used to have to beg the boys team to come support us and now they are in the stands, cheering, yelling things to their athlete friends on the girls squad. Our girls varsity team has a swagger that moves me. Entitlement, ladies. Grab it while it's hot.
Maya has melded so seamlessly with her freshman team. As a parent, we want many, many things for our kids: The obvious stuff, the priorities, the basics, opportunities -- the list is endless -- and this is what takes 24hours a day, but when the special extras work out, you want them to enjoy it full hilt. I couldn't guarantee her that high school would be enjoyable. Middle school was tough so I was prepared to guide her through high school too; to be herself, stay strong, build character, learn lots, enjoy what she enjoys. It's not always fun to encourage an effort-filled enjoyment of life, but sometimes that's how it is. But her high school experience so far has been just great. A lot of that has been because she is on this team. She's comfortable being herself. She's respected as an athlete. Boy athletes crush on her. She became fast and deep friends with two girls on her team, girls who I'd gladly call my own. They're on the left there; Mama E (they call her) is on the left, Messiah in the middle. If Messiah isn't the greatest girls name in the history of girls names, I'm not sure what is. These are the friendships that could last a lifetime. I know it did for me with Betsy. This is exactly how we were. Anyway, Maya's team experience is teaching her things about living and being a person that I can't really reach. It's like filling in the nooks and crannies of her growing up. She obviously has to fill in some of that stuff on her own and being a team member is allowing a lot of that.
So, in last night's parent meeting, when the conversation of fundraising was belabored and pummeled over our heads until many parents' lips curled in resentment, I got it. Even after the meeting, Maya bashed on all the emphasis on raising money and I told her not to. Our grassroots fundraising is the only way we can keep the program thriving. Her coach has said that he wants the girls program to be as respected as the boys. He's done a lot to make that happen and I anticipate that Maya will benefit from it all for the next four years whether she realizes how special her extras really are.
I'm going to run a 10K on Feb 7th to raise money for the girls program. Would this be something you'd support? $20 here, $10 there to encouragement me to bust it out for our basketball team? I wish I was ready to run in something more noble and impressive, but for short-notice fundraising ideas, this is what I can do. Any bit will help, seriously. The next post will have more details. Go Vikings!