David Timmerman, a member of the Ketchikan School Board, mortified the Ketchikan High School volleyball team when he stood up at a game to conduct an impromptu poll of the audience: did the uniforms make them uncomfortable? When asked, Timmerman explained that he has heard other female students say that they would participate in the sport if it weren’t for the uniform’s short shorts. 

“I’m trying to protect the women — the girls that are out there,” Timmerman told the school board. 

Volleyball team captain Kinani Halverson didn’t see it that way. “The poll served to bring unwanted, unnecessary and inappropriate attention to our athletes’ bodies,” she said.

As a result of the poll, $2,000 was spent on new shorts for the team, but what they really need, according to Halverson, is new jerseys. The team and coaches were not consulted about the purchase.

Timmerman apologized for having embarrassed the team, but it was too little too late. The confrontation with Timmerman was the catalyst the team needed to confront the Ketchikan School Board about a long list of grievances, including perceived Title IX violations, gender bias, and objectification.

Volleyball coaches Rebecca Clark and Tylynn Ward have shared that the medical room has been inadequately supplied during their training season, and in one case there were no volunteers or referees lined up for an all-day volleyball event even though they had provided the school with a list of names well in advance.

For the 2016 competition year, no representative was sent to a regional sports scheduling meeting, resulting in a more expensive traveling season for the team. Both coaches and concerned parents have been repeatedly rebuffed by officials at Ketchikan High.

Principal Bob Marshall was noncommittal when responding to these claims, saying that he will look into the specific complaints leveled at the school, but ultimately he supports his staff. 

Courtney Cameron is Editorial Assistant of Athletic Business.