NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — This story was co-produced by NewsChannel 5 and student journalists Abbey Cutrer and Ashja Murchison of Hillsboro High School. It is part of a partnership between NewsChannel 5's parent company, Scripps, and the News Literacy Project, aimed at teaching audiences how to identify fact from fiction by becoming more news literate.
"If you have a girl run into this," Hillsboro High School softball Coach R.P. Harris said, "that would not be good." He was holding on to a thorny, overgrown bush, pushing its branches through the fence line of the girls softball field. And sometimes, he said, it is not just the weeds and overgrown bushes, it is the other visitors, too.
"There are mice and birds that take up residence in the dugouts," Harris said. "It has been at least two and half decades that the girls have played on this dilapidated field."
But the school, is currently under construction, part of a nearly 100 million dollar project, approved by the Nashville Metro Council back in 2017. According a spokesperson for Metro Nashville Schools, the entire softball field is being reconstructed including fencing and dugouts. The work is expected to be complete, the spokesperson said, by May 2021.
At Overton High School, just a short distance from Hillsboro, girls softball players have been dealing with a similar issue on their field. The field is also under construction, part of a renovation that began in 2016, according a spokesperson with Metro Nashville Schools.
Kim Gaines, the Athletic Director for all sports programs there, took News Channel 5 on a tour of the renovations, which is much further along in the process compared to Hillsboro High School.
"The field is supposed to be ready for play this year.” She said. Gaines has worked at Overton for more than 30 years and said not once has the softball field been updated in any way. Gaines went on to describe the inequities between the girl’s field and the boy’s field.
“Boy's sports have always had it a little bit better on the other side of the school, but it has always been that way in high school for as long as I can remember.” Gaines said.
Meantime, closer to Franklin road, the boy’s baseball field sits surrounded by lighting. Gaines says every year female athletes or their parents notice the vast difference asking, "Why do the boys have this and we have this?”
Mike Morrison, Head Coach for the Overton Baseball team for the last 24 years is quick to point out that the lush green field, field house and gated complex did not get built over night. He also adds fundraisers, donations and constant upkeep helps in maintaining the field.
“Every year we make something about our baseball complex a priority, whether it is the batting cages, or the dugouts or the back stops. At the beginning of every season, every player, every player, is assigned an area of the field and complex to call home. It is up to every player to keep his area spotless.”
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