In Woodland, youth baseball has access to six fields. Women’s softball is an unregulated field.
Former Woodland City Councilor Skip Davies has advocated for the equal treatment of boys and girls in youth sports for several years. On Wednesday evening, Davies spoke at a meeting of the Luna Vista Rotary Club to present plans for the construction of three new softball fields.
“This is a project that this community needs,” Davies said. “Our daughters are treated considerably differently from the young men in our community. There is a law in California that looks like Title IX for children and we in Woodland have ignored it.
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational programs and settings.
In California, Assembly Bill 2404 became law in 2003 and required equal recreational facilities and programs in youth sports for boys and girls within 10 years. In 2019, AB 2881, known as the Fair Play in Community Sports Act, was passed, essentially strengthening the law, Davies explained.
Each year, the Woodland Girls Fastpitch Softball Association (WGFSA), which brings together ages 4 to 17, has about 250 girls participating in the spring program and about 60 to 80 girls playing fall ball. The lack of available pitches, however, prevented Woodland from hosting tournaments and prompted teams to bounce back in search of suitable training areas.
Davies noted the marked differences between baseball and softball fields, citing overall field size, outfield dimensions, distance between bases, throwing circle, and lack of grass in the infield in softball as the main reasons why these two sports need separate facilities.
“You have to build these fields for the girls,” Davies said. “You can’t play fastball softball on a baseball field. It’s a different sport. ”
The only girls’ softball field is at Douglass Middle School. However, as the fences are not up to regulatory standards, games cannot be hosted on the site. There are also no bathrooms, disabled access or parking and the snack bar has no running water, according to Davies.
“We just don’t have the facilities for these young women,” Davies said. “Our plan is to build three fields and we have the land that the Town of Woodland gave us. ”
Access to three regulatory standard pitches would allow Woodland to host tournaments with 16-24 teams per weekend and increase revenue for local Woodland businesses, according to WGFSA president Olga Giroux.
Tournament fees would be donated to the organization to help cover the costs of maintaining the field. A snack is also in the plans and Giroux pointed out that this is a huge source of income during tournaments.
Giroux, who has a daughter who plays fastball for the WGFSA, said he has recently seen an increase in the number of female players participating and predicts that lack of practice space will become an issue this spring.
“We had almost 200 daughters this fall and we’ve never had such high numbers in the fall, so I can see those big numbers continue into the spring,” Giroux said.
Davies said he is looking to pave the way by winter 2021 with construction work until December 2022. The fields are expected to be operational by spring 2023.
“This is a community effort, a community building project,” Davies said. “We ask people to come and bring their expertise. I’ve seen the community grow before, we can do it.
The project is expected to cost $ 930,000 and has raised $ 450,000 to date. Community members interested in donating to the project can do so via Gofundme.
“It’s not just about fastpitch,” Davies concluded. “It’s about doing something in this community that we should have done a long time ago. ”