Female athletes at Esquimalt High are finally getting new jerseys.
Members of the rugby, basketball and volleyball teams appeared before council on Monday to request $2,750 in order to purchase new uniforms. Years ago, a spelling mistake left the old jerseys reading ‘“grils” and at the time it was thought of as a cute joke, said the school’s athletic director Mike Thompson.
But now, he said, it’s a dated outlook for female sports.
“The culture has shifted,” explained Thompson, who coaches rugby and wrestling. “And to be totally honest, I think it’s the female athletes in our school right now that are really driving it.”
Grade 12 student and basketball player Emily Parker said it’s time to refresh the teams’ look. “Some jerseys have gone missing, some don’t fit people. Ordering new jerseys would mean a lot,” she said.
Esquimalt High is home to a high-performance rugby program and many of the female athletes are high-ranking in the province. Currently, Esquimalt teams play under the Ravens logo, a name chosen by the male students. Thompson would like to see the girls have a chance to create their own team identity – they’ve recently been playing as the Eagles.
“I like the eagles, they’re just a cool bird and they’re really strong,” said Saffron Brooks, a Grade 10 student who plays rugby and basketball and is on the wrestling team.
Six years ago, 11 girls played sports at Esquimalt High. This year, 45 girls tried out for volleyball alone and 21 have signed up for rugby.
A slew of strong female students and athletes have led to a really positive last few years for the school, Thompson said.
“Girls that are encouraging other people to play is so much better than teachers saying it,” Parker noted. “I’ve been talking to my friends and encouraging them to try something new.”
“Even if they don’t want to play, they still want to go to games and be there to support the team,” added Brooks.
The girls hope to sport their new jerseys by the time they hit the field for the start of rugby season in mid-February. Coun. Meagan Brame wants to be kept updated on how that goes.
“We like to hear how well the sports teams are doing,” she told the students, encouraging them to connect via social media. “We like to share your successes as well, so please keep us in the loop.”