A father of a former Naperville Central softball player is asking for changes to the school’s softball field.
“Title IX has been around since 1972, I thought this was all settled off and should be that easy.”
That’s what Jeff Anderson first thought when he wanted to help improve the softball field at Naperville Central where his daughter played for four years.
“I went to the athletic director in November of 2016 and show him pictures of all the other softball diamonds in the DVC,” said Anderson. “And I just said, ‘quite frankly ours is the worst, so what can we do to get that done?’”
The Naperville Park District owns the softball field property and the school district leases the use of it.
Anderson brought this and cost inequities to the attention of the District 203 board at its latest meeting. He found drastic differences between Central’s baseball and softball spending from 2010-2018.
“Approximately $634,000 spent on improvements of the baseball field and the press box, and $27,000 on temporary field fence for softball field,” explained Anderson.
It’s a clear contrast not just in numbers but also to those who play on the field every spring.
“[In] the outfield there’s a lot of holes. It’s kind of dangerous for our outfielders; you don’t want anyone to trip and fall and hurt themselves. I remember my freshman year there was a girl on my team who did fall [from] one of the holes and did hurt her ankle and then she was out the rest of the season. And that was just because of the field not being where it should be,” said Lauren Anderson, Jeff’s daughter and former varsity softball player at NCHS.
“I think this field is definitively one of the lower quality fields out of the other DVC fields. Fields like [Naperville] North they just re-did theirs they have a really nice field. And when the fields are nicer you look forward to playing there. So I feel like teams look at our field they’re just like ‘Oh, we’re playing Central again [that’s] kind of a crappy field,’” added Staci Stark, another former varsity softball player at NCHS.
In response, the district has asked for an estimate on the girl’s softball field renovations, which includes topographical studies. Those estimates are now in the hands of architects.
203 plans to work with the park district to determine which improvements are amenable to them and fiscally feasible.
Superintendent Dan Bridges also said in a statement, “We are committed to equitable resources and facilities to support all programming.”
The District 203 board also asked that a report be produced for an upcoming meeting that would give a more detailed response on the softball renovations needed.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.