A California high school softball coach suspects that the motivations behind the recent theft of his team’s equipment was retaliation for the team seeking fair treatment.
At issue are fields and facilities used primarily by girls’ teams at Tennyson (Calif.) High School, which softball coach Steve Griggs and boys’ soccer coach Gabriel Hernandez have alleged are sub-par compared to those used primarily by boys’ teams.
The two coaches filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, claiming that the Hayward Unified School District treats female student-athletes unfairly and operates its programs in violation of Title IX.
That, Griggs suspects, is what motivated an individual to clean out a locker filled with equipment specifically for use by the softball team, and to throw that equipment out in a nearby dumpster, according to the Mercury News.
“This was deliberate,” Griggs reportedly stated. “The lock was removed … and time spent to throw it all away. It was the only locker cleaned out that we can tell from (where the equipment was thrown in) the dumpster.”
The team raised money to purchase the equipment, which the Mercury News reports included things such as weights and medicine balls costing hundreds of dollars. The funds for the equipment were not provided by the school or the district.
Griggs was so frustrated by what he perceived as an attack on his team that he resigned from his position as coach, saying “I don’t want to be part of it anymore.”
In a statement, district spokesperson Dionicia Ramos said that the equipment was thrown out by mistake and the entire incident was a misunderstanding.
“The Hayward Unified School District learned that an athletic coach at Tennyson High School cleaned out a storage space, which held conditioning equipment used by student-athletes,” said a district statement. “The equipment that the coach disposed of was not labeled as belonging to any one sports team. Instead, the coach believed he was cleaning out items that had gone unused for years. After learning that the disposal of equipment had upset the softball coach, the items were returned to the shared storage facility.”
All of the discarded equipment was recovered.