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Gym renovations will offer new sports for students

The new gym continues to be one of the main focuses among Palo Alto High School athletes and is projected to be completed in May 2017.

“I think that we will probably start doing the finishing touches in May,” said Kathi Bowers, Sports Director. “There may be the opportunity for some of our teams to hold some of their workouts there this summer, trying to beta test it. I expect that we will be fully operational August 1 for fall sports.”

With the completion of the new gym comes the possibility for the sports program’s growth. Bowers is looking to add boy’s volleyball as a spring sport. If there is enough participation for JV and Varsity teams, both will play in the league. If participation is low, only a Varsity team will compete.

“Gunn and Paly are one of the few schools in our league that does not offer boys volleyball, and there has been a really big interest in boys volleyball the last couple of years, but we didn’t have the space with tearing down the gym,” Bowers said. “We have enough problems right now with getting gym space for all our teams, so one of our first things we are going to start to explore this coming January is adding boys volleyball.”

Bowers is looking to offer the sport in the spring of 2018, as the gym will not yet be available for the teams in the spring of 2017. Some of the challenges of creating the new team include finding a coach and figuring out logistics for joining the league.

However, Title IX states that there must be equal opportunity for both genders under an education program receiving Federal financial aid. This means there may be complication in adding a new boys sport, but not a girls. A solution to this might be the addition of girls field hockey.

“There are other schools that offer it, and don’t offer field hockey, so I have to find out how they do that,” Bowers said. “The problem with field hockey is field space: we just don’t have the field space for field hockey. In a perfect world, if we had another nice big grass or turf field, we could add field hockey in the fall.”

Issues occur with fitting field hockey into the already busy field schedule. In the past, the frosh-soph football team practiced on the outfield of the baseball field, but this damaged the field and made it dangerous for the baseball players. Now, the boys currently practice on the lacrosse field.

There is a possibility of going off-campus for field hockey practice, but this is a solution Paly would rather avoid due to the added logistic complexity.

“All the pieces have to fit and the first piece is interest (you have to have enough people), the second piece is the space,” Bowers said. “Those are the two hardest pieces. Finding uniforms, paying officials, that’s not at all an issue. It’s the space and the interest.”

However, a boys volleyball team looks to be a future addition to the Paly sports world, and cheerleading is soon to become a recognized California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sport.

“[Cheerleading is] going to happen for sure, but we don’t know what it’s going to look like until the spring,” Bowers said.

With the possible new addition of multiple sports in the system, the sports budget comes into question. While Paly sports currently ask for participation donations, this amount would not be raised, instead the program would work to raise additional funds.

Whether or not new sports will be introduced to Paly will be announced in January, along with an update on gym construction.

“Our goal is that we offer as many sports as we can and have as many kids as possible involved,” Bowers said. “We’re restrained more by our facilities than by our interest in having the sports.”

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