Throughout the year, most McNicholas students will enter one of the locker rooms on campus to get ready for practice, a game, or simply to change before gym class. Between the two locker rooms in the main gym, the men’s locker room has 36 half lockers and 45 full size lockers in addition to an extra gated-off set of full size lockers, while the women’s locker room only has 60 half size lockers. The first has a coach’s room, trophies, and plaques hanging from the wall, and the other lacks those commodities. So why is there such a difference when the student body is almost evenly split between boys and girls?
“The main gym was built in the early 1960s,” Athletic Director Rob Heise said. “Considering the state of women’s athletics at that time, there wasn’t much use for a women’s locker room. If that building was built today, the facilities would be identical.”
While the original design plan is understandable, one might wonder why renovations haven’t occurred since the 1960s to accommodate the growth of women’s athletics. Assigning women’s teams to the smaller, less sanitary locker room seems unfair, but there are alternatives to ease the situation.
For starters, athletic teams can organize fundraisers, separate from the mandatory Blast Off Raffle, to raise money for locker room renovations. Car washes and bake sales may not make a significant amount of money, but donations from multiple teams pooled together can make a difference. There are closets and storage areas that can be used to expand the size of the locker room and perhaps add a coach’s room, but that process is likely costly and complicated. Until enough money is raised, simple cosmetic changes such as repainting the walls, cleaning, and adding new mirrors can improve the overall quality of the space.
Another possibility is scheduling time in the men’s locker room. Heise is open to women’s teams using the men’s locker room in preparation for big games. “Women are welcome to use the bigger locker room, but for convenience sake, most teams use their usual one,” Heise said. “The intent is that each player has a locker in a specific locker room for the season.”
A perhaps more outlandish suggestion would be to use the old women’s locker room in senior hall. It is currently used as a locker room for referees, but if any team, visiting or home, really would want to use this larger locker room painted with the intention of being a women’s basketball locker room, game officials could use the women’s locker room to be closer to the court. The disadvantage of this for the team would be the distance from the gym.
At the end of the day, all McNicholas athletes are equal and deserve equal opportunities and treatment. There are many ways to attain a suitable locker room, but the willingness and effort must be put forth. “Every team deserves respect and equality, both men’s and women’s,” said senior varsity basketball player Ashley Taylor said. “I think that all athletes should support each other. No one knows what a supportive crowd can do for a team better than athletes themselves.”