BY RACHEL FINSTON
UMW is colloquially known as “University of Mostly Women” but how does that translate to the university’s sports teams? Specifically in the case of softball and baseball, equity seems questionable.
In terms of information available about the teams, the softball team fields 25 players, just like most major league baseball teams. Baseball, however, has 27. Even at a Division III school like UMW, it probably costs a significant amount of money to supply athletes, and both sports require the same amount of players. Both teams were established in 1988 and have three coaches, two assistants and a head coach. However, according to the team schedule, the softball season is a month longer than the baseball season, going into the month of May after the April 22 CAC Tournament. Students have also expressed that playing times and playing locations for softball are less desirable than the ones assigned to the baseball team. Even if they have the same playing times, people are more likely to attend baseball games than softball games.
Emma Rakowski, sophomore softball player, says that she hasn’t had any problems.
“From my experience our playing times are always the same and the facilities for both softball and baseball can be really good or really shabby.”
She said that she’s been treated very well as a softball player. That is reassuring, since Title IX requires men and women to be allotted the same opportunities, but the disparate sizes of the teams are still a bit suspect. Softball head coach Dee Conway has been with UMW softball since its inception, for thirty years, and she is also a UMW associate professor. Wayne Riser, head baseball coach has been with UMW baseball for five years and has not had the tenure with the school that Conway has. Another issue is the V. Earl Dickinson Stadium, where UMW baseball plays their home games. It boasts one thousand seats, concessions, and batting cages, both indoor and outdoor. There does not appear to be an equivalent facility for softball, which is troubling, nor do softball players play games at the stadium.
It seems like there are some inherent inequalities at play between the softball and baseball teams that need to be addressed. Hopefully, veteran coach Conway and her players will be able to get the playing times, facilities and funding that they deserve. UMW may only be a Division III school, but students still have the opportunity to enjoy sports, and it’s important that the university provide the same opportunities to everyone.