MS girls sports riding rapidly--hang in there gals!
Years ago, athletes who happened to be girls were considered "odd" or "tomboys" or were completely ignored. Athletic scholarships for girls would probably have been the subject for a good laugh.
Not so today. Now that girls are accepted as athletes, more fans are being attracted by their skill, and more publicity is starting to show the results of the determination of the girls' teams.
Presently, Maine South girls compete in eight interscholastic sports, each with a season of nine weeks. First quarter brings tennis and swimming; second quarter, gymnastics and volleyball; third quarter, basketball and badminton; and softball and track for the final quarter.
In the last five years, the program has expanded to include junior-varsity competition in tennis, volleyball, basketball, badminton and softball. The other sports compete only the varsity level.
"By the '76-'77 school year, there will be competition for all sports on the state level," asserts Ms. Pierce, girls' physical education department chairman.
The Illinois High School Association sponsors tournaments in tennis, swimming, track and volleyball. Next year, softball will be added, to be followed by gymnastics and basketball the next year.
Some schools have dropped their intramural programs to put more emphasis on interscholastic teams, but the program here at South is still very active. "This is due to student interest and enthusiasm, and the sponsorship of Ms. Finneran and GRA," explained Ms. Pierce.
Almost all of the teams have met with considerable success. In the swim team's three years of existence, it has remained undefeated. The team competes only on the varsity level, but has increased its number of meets each year. "We're the State Champions, and should be successful for many years to come," Ms. Butler, swimming coach, observed.
The gymnastics team originally started as a club, meeting only once a week, with one "get together" type meet at the end of the season. Next year, the team will have 12 meets, plus a league meet, and is in a conference of 11 schools.
"Increasing numbers of girls have been trying out for the team," remarked Ms. Goll, gymnastics coach. "The schools in our conference have some of the best gymnastic programs in the state. I'd like to have more meets--the more competition, the better the team will be."
In the sport of Billie Jean King, things are also looking up. The tennis team has expanded to a ten-meet schedule on varsity and JV levels, plus, since 1972, competition on a set schedule in the central suburban league and state and district tournaments.
According to Ms. Albrecht, tennis coach, "There are usually about 80 girls trying out for the 21 spots on the team, but the level of skill is improving every year."
The improvement is due partly to the increased interest in tennis and the abundance of indoor clubs in which to play or take lessons during the winter. The park district and summer school also offer summer programs.
District competition in volleyball sparked some enthusiasm this year when the team won the district championship and advanced to the sectionals. As Ms. Voelz, volleyball coach, commented, "The public is getting more educated--they're coming and seeing what power volleyball is really like."
The girls' basketball season will soon be on its way. The team's goals: to be number one in division, which is determined by win-loss record; to play well in the Barrington Invitational on March 15; and to win the conference championship.
The girls' sports program has been going very well and is getting better every year, agreed most of the coaches. According tothem, success is due to a combination of administration support, "coaches that are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and dedicated, and athletes with spirit, skill, and dedication."
Though the Hawk Boosters are not presently giving the same kind of support to the girls' sports as they do for boys, the outlook is hopeful that they will get together with the girls' sports programs by the end of the year.
Further expansion of the program may be somewhat limited. "I don't see Maine South adding more sports to the already busy year. We're doing as much as we can successfully with the staff we have (eight teachers)," remarked Ms. Pierce.
Other improvements the coaches would like to see for the future are: more meets, more levels of competition, more interest and publicity, and equal time in the gyms. (The basketball team is forced to have 6:15 AM practice.)
One area of girls' sports that is just beginning is athletic scholarships. Three years ago they were non-existent. This year, more than 60 colleges are offering some type of aid to attract women athletes, and more girls are looking into them.
As Ms. Voelz says, "It's an exciting time in girls' sports--values and priorities are changing." Hopefully, they are changing for the benefit of both teams and spectators.