Taft girls’ basketball locker room to be refurbished with grant

Sophia Tchkertenian knows the frustration.

When Tchamkertenian played junior varsity basketball at Taft, she prepared for games in the school’s general gym as the 25-foot by 30-foot locker room was reserved for varsity players. No lockers were assigned to the JV program, so Tchamkertenian and her teammates stuffed their clothes into their backpacks and lugged them to games.

“When I went up [to varsity]it was a huge privilege to even have a place to change,” said Tchkertenian.

Even at varsity, the team was relegated to the gym early in its season until the girls’ volleyball team ended its season. Meanwhile, assistant principal Neezer McNab said the football program is getting a new team room.

“My teammates and I, we’ve just gotten used to it – not having certain things [the boys] do,” said Tchkertenian.

But now they have something the boys have.

On July 29, Voice in Sport, an organization dedicated to empowering women’s voices, announced that Taft would receive a $40,000 Title IX Micro Grant to renovate the girls’ basketball locker room. Not only does the school take the money and run — the stipend is conditional on Taft working on a number of Title IX-related initiatives to improve equity at the school.

“I’m happy that girls can experience this and feel just as important and important as the boys,” said Tchankertenian.

Since launching Voice in Sport in 2020, founder Stefanie Strack has spoken to hundreds of girls in schools across the country about their lack of Title IX resources. Taft was selected for the scholarship because there were “several gaps” between Taft’s girls’ and boys’ programs, Strack said.

“If young girls don’t have a place to change before training, can you imagine how uncomfortable that makes you feel?” said Strack.

McNab, Taft’s Title IX coordinator, said the construction of a new soccer team room makes the Taft girls eligible for the scholarship.

“We were lucky because in a public school there is only a certain amount that you have allocated,” McNab said.

McNab couldn’t give a timeline for the renovation because the school only recently received the grant.

There is a larger, well thought out plan for the overall partnership between Taft and Voice in Sport.

Under the agreements, Taft will host Title IX training for the sports community, disclose participation and earnings data for boys’ and girls’ sports, and conduct Title IX assessments before and after the new facility’s completion. McNab also separately mentioned that she is trying to train and recruit more female coaches for the school.

“Taft steps up and says, ‘Hey, we want to do better, we want to understand Title IX better, we want our experience to be better for our young girls,'” Strack said. “They don’t necessarily have the resources, and that’s where we have this partnership.”

Almost every school that studied Voice in Sport in Los Angeles had unequal treatment between boys’ and girls’ programs, Strack said. Taft was selected specifically for his commitment to action.

Part of this effort includes the establishment of a Voice in Sport Advocate program, a student-run club that oversees the school’s progress in Title IX education.

Tchamkertenian finds herself the president of an organization she didn’t even know existed two weeks ago. She is ready to come up with plans for further improvements if there is any money left over from the dressing room renovation.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I’ve never led a movement of this magnitude,” Tchkertenian said.

Growing up, 59-year-old McNab said girls were thankful for everything they received. Strack repeated the feeling. Ultimately, the goal of the partnership is to help female athletes like Tchammertenian feel worthy of this facility and more.

“It will empower them and give the girls peace of mind that they are valued just as much [as boys]and you shouldn’t have to be thankful for that,” McNab said.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/highschool/story/2022-08-04/taft-girls-basketball-locker-room-refurbished-voice-in-sport Taft girls’ basketball locker room to be refurbished with grant

Emma Bowman

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