Girls basketball takes a stand against sexual assault

Student- athletes work with local program to educate themselves and others

Hannah Weaver Copy Editor
Originally published January 24th, 2020

(Zev Golden-Zagorski)Head coach Brad Baker in a huddle with the girls basketball team against Nathan Hale on Dec. 6. The Beavers lost 45-31.

(Zev Golden-Zagorski)

Head coach Brad Baker in a huddle with the girls basketball team against Nathan Hale on Dec. 6. The Beavers lost 45-31.

This season, the girls basketball team is taking on a new opponent — gender stereotypes.
Earlier this year, Team Up Washington reached out to athletic director, Eric Ensign, to see if any sports teams were interested in taking part in their program. Their programs — one for boys teams and another for girls teams — work to “prevent sexual assault and dating abuse in local high schools,” as stated on their website.
Girls basketball was the only team to accept the offer, and they are now over halfway through the ten-week program. Discussions are facilitated by head coach Brad Baker, who chose to attend the program’s training because of the feedback he received from veteran players when asking them what they wanted the mantra to be for the season.
They chose the slogan “bigger than basketball,” which Baker felt connected to the goals of the Team Up program.
“We’re obviously here to play basketball, and we all have a love for that game, but we also understand that not every single one of us aren’t going to go on and play college basketball,” Baker said. “This will be the last time we play organized basketball, so it’s really more about the lessons that we’ve learned and the relationships that we’ve gained.”
In a relatively short amount of time, Baker is proud to see the team learning meaningful lessons from the discussions they’ve had so far.
“We’ve already seen our players standing up and speaking out against gender inequity or gender biases or stereotypes,” Baker said.
For senior and captain Maisie Clark, there have been advantages both on and off of the court.
“[The program] provides a bonding experience that’s way deeper and more meaningful than a lot of other silly team bonding games that people normally play,” Clark said. “I think that it’s [also] made me a lot more aware both of the privilege that I have, and the discrepancies in the treatment of boys and girls sports here.”
This is an issue that’s not only “bigger than basketball,” but also bigger than our single community. Domestic violence is a nationwide problem. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported that one in four women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. However, one in seven men have also been victims of the same kind of violence.
Baker, Clark and captain Maddy Angelos all agree that more teams need to step in. “Hopefully after this season of the girls doing it the boys [will] pick it up as well,” Angelos said. The problem is not women’s alone to solve, it will take everyone’s efforts to reverse centuries of systemic abuse.
“It’s really for this group of student-athletes to understand the power that they have within their community, within their school, and then also going forward to create the type of world that they want,” Baker said.