Sports

Will Friday be girls’ night in 2005-06?

Saying that a two-year dearth of Friday home games for the South Whidbey High School girls basketball team was both beyond his control and a mistake, the school’s athletic director, Mark Hodson, is vowing that the 2005-06 season will be more fair.

Over the past two seasons, the Falcon girls have played a total of two home games on Fridays, compared to the 11 scheduled for the boys team. Girls basketball fans, players and coaches have noticed, Hodson said, and have commented to him on the shortage of Friday games throughout this season.

“I’ve gotten a lot of feedback,” he said.

The disparity between the girls and boys teams’ schedules is unusual at South Whidbey High School. Between 1995 and 2003, the girls team played 37 Friday home games, while the boys played 36. The most unbalanced year during that period was the 2002-03 season, during which the girls had six home Friday games to just two for the boys.

This week, Hodson said North Cascades Conference athletic directors shorted the South Whidbey girls Friday games on the 2003-04 when they planned a two-year schedule for the conference. Hodson was hired as South Whidbey’s athletic director the fall of 2003 and was not part of that schedule planning.

For the team’s current two year Cascade Conference schedule, Hodson said he accepts responsibility for the shortage of Friday home games. Once the season got underway, he said, he made attempts to swap some Friday home games with other teams in the conference. Those attempts were unsuccessful.

Another Cascade Conference high school, Lakewood, suffered a similar Friday home game disparity this season. In that school’s case, the boys basketball team had just one home game this season.

Hodson said conference athletic directors will make a change for next year to make certain the Falcon girls have a more equitable schedule. They have yet to decide whether to give the boys and girls teams an equal number of Friday games during the 2005-06 season, or to give the girls teams the majority of Friday home dates to make up for the past two seasons.

For girls on this year’s team, the lack of Friday games has meant fewer fans. Mary McCune, a senior and three-year varsity player, said she and her team members want and need that fan support.

“People in the school don’t want to come out on a Tuesday,” she said.

McCune’s teammate and fellow senior Danielle Burton said playing Fridays at home are also a big deal for team performance.

“It makes the game a lot better,” she said.

While the South Whidbey boys and girls teams had about the same number of total home games over the past two years, Friday games have attracted bigger crowds for whichever team is playing, something borne out by game ticket sales figures kept by the school. The boys team saw an average of 14 more paid admissions at Friday games over the past two years, while the girls saw up to 36 more paid fans attending a week-ending game over a midweek game — 131 fans versus 95. Attendance figures kept by the high school do not track the number of students admitted to games.

John Pyrtek, the head coach for the Falcon girls, said he hopes a strong message about the past two years’ scheduling gets through to Cascades Conference athletic directors and to South Whidbey’s Hodson. He said his team should receive the lion’s share of Friday home game dates for the coming season.

“I feel bad for this year’s seniors,” he said while speaking recently about the Friday game shortage. “But I feel good for next year’s seniors for all the home games they’re going to have.”

Over the past 10 seasons, the Falcon girls have compiled a record of 100 wins and 111 losses, made district playoffs four times and placed fifth in state in 2000. Over the same period, the boys are 51-154 with two playoff appearances.

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