Caged in

Request for new batting cage raises bigger issues

Shortly before winter break, the Jones baseball team submitted a request for a new batting cage. But instead of a quick approval process, the team struggled with obstacles in purchasing the cage. 

The Local School Council (LSC) was first informed of the baseball team’s desire for this purchase on Dec. 7, the same night of the LSC’s monthly meeting. However, a vote did not occur and a decision on the batting cage was postponed until the January meeting. 

“The LSC discussed it that night at the meeting, and we did not vote on it because there were too many unanswered questions at that point,” said Dr. Cassie Cresswell, the chair of the LSC. “Dr. Powers wasn’t at that meeting, neither was Mr. Boyd or Mr. Strok. So, we postponed the vote, and put it back on the agenda for the January meeting.”

However, when it came time for the vote there were some members of the LSC that were not comfortable with passing the purchase. 

“We did have a discussion at the January meeting, and the purchase did pass,” said Creswell. “I voted ‘no’ and Violet Cerna-Prado voted ‘no’. I was not comfortable with making that purchase.”

Other members of the LSC hoped the purchase would pass, wanting the best for the baseball and softball student-athletes.

“This is something that the boy’s team wants and the girl’s team also says they want, so let’s just approve it,” said William Clancy ‘22, one of the three student representatives in the LSC. “We should just focus on getting what students need done rather than arguing, and if there are issues let’s address those issues.”

The main issue that was brought up in the meeting was a Title IX equity problem in the wake of coaching staff resignations on the girl’s softball team.

“We knew that there hadn’t been a new softball coach hired for the girls. The previous staff stepped down in the Spring of 2020,” said Rachel Zein, a community representative for the LSC. “And a new coach was only hired last fall. So some LSC members had questions about that.”

Another issue was that the boy’s team, due to their fundraising, had significantly more funds than the girl’s team, which raised eyebrows. 

“The baseball team has a very large balance, and $15,000 of that appeared as a payment this fall. I can’t find any record and certainly we did not approve any fundraisers since we were seated a year ago that would account for that money,” said Creswell. “As an LSC member, it is not within my fiduciary duty to vote ‘yes’ on spending close to $6,000 from an account where I don’t know where that money came from and there’s no explanation of what it was raised for.”

Despite questions about the money in the baseball account, the team put in the request for a new batting cage with hopes of getting a safer cage for both softball and baseball teams. 

“The [batting cage] that we have currently is really old and really big. The only team that was ever able to utilize it was the varsity baseball team,” said Mike Strok ‘05, the new athletic director at Jones. “We’d have to put it up, and we’d leave it up for softball, the junior varsity team. Then we would have to be the ones that took it down, which was like a 15 minute process.” 

At the end of the day, two different issues held up a simple request for a new batting cage.

“I think that the two issues do not belong together. I was glad we were talking about these things, but I think the stalling of the purchase made things more confusing,” said Zein. “It took away from the force of what some members were saying, which is, yes there are inequities in sports at Jones particularity around fundraising, facility access, and coach access, but that doesn’t mean we should not buy something that the students can use.”