Transition to high school may cause girls to rethink athletics

As a freshman girl in athletics, it can be difficult to overcome possible social standards that come along with playing in high school versus middle school.

“There is a huge drop-off of players when girls get to high school,” Carmel Middle School eighth grade girls’ basketball coach Abe Stallcup says. “I think it’s definitely a social standard at that age of girls from eighth to freshman.”

Sophomore junior varsity basketball player Elizabeth McRae feels that the situation between boys and girls is something that should be talked about among the athletic community at Carmel High.

“There are more boys because there is some drive to make boys play more sports, but girls want to do them too,” McRae says.

Although social standards are often personal, some female athletes believe it is something that should be discussed more often. Social stigmas could include anything from the sport becoming too aggressive to the fear of being cut.

Some players, though, don’t think social standards play a big role because they’re just a part of playing sports, especially once students reach high school.

“In middle school I went to Catalina, which was all kind of revolving around girls, so I felt fine, and I still do,” CHS freshman and former tennis player Naomi Jun says.

In addition to possible social stigma for girls, some players and coaches believe there are expectations set for boys once they reach high school as well.

“I think there’s a social stigma for boys who aren’t athletic,” CHS English teacher and former girls’ soccer coach Whitney Grummon notes. “However, I think it’s even more important for a young woman to be on a team rather than a young man.”

Most are inclined to agree that social standards exist for both genders.

“There are definitely gender issues,” varsity boys’ soccer coach Tom Clifford adds. “But I also think there is some pressure for guys.”

According to statistics provided by CMS athletic director Leigh White, 65 percent of the eighth grade athletes at CMS are male. From the counseling department at CHS, 70 percent of freshmen athletes are male. However, these statistics are subject to error by nature because they include all multiple-sport athletes. That means that the same athletes have the potential to be counted up to three times, depending on how many sports that athlete plays throughout the year.

Although in some instances, such as girls’ basketball, a drop-off in participation is evident. The 2015-16 CMS eighth grade girls’ basketball team had 11 players, and this year’s team has 14. By contrast, at CHS there are eight freshmen girls playing basketball; however, the reason for the decrease in participation is unclear.

At the middle school level, girls’ soccer and girls’ basketball take place in different seasons, but in high school, both are during the winter season. This could potentially take basketball players at the middle school level away from the sport in high school. There are a few new high school sports such as water polo that could pull players, both male and female, away from the sport they played that season in middle school.

CHS also some gender-specific sports, such as football and lacrosse, which are both entirely male. Those were not included in the statistics provided by White and counselors at Carmel High because those sports aren’t offered at Carmel Middle. That leaves upward of 50 boys out of the percentage.

Carmel High has a field hockey team, a sport made of solely females, that was left from the percentage. However, field hockey has only 44 girls in total of JV and varsity, but football comes in right behind at 36 players just between ninth and tenth grade in the 2015-2016 school year.

But as both Grummon and Stallcup mention, many parents want their children to be involved in sports in middle school, but possibly allow them more freedom once they enter the ninth grade. Those females that played in middle school may just be more interested in music, drama, writing or art than they are in the athletics at CHS.

-Ellah Foster