OPINION: Athletic Director Spear Has Been Instrumental in Change at Framingham High

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By Casey Diana

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FRAMINGHAM – My name is Casey Diana and I am the Framingham High School Girls Varsity Hockey Coach.

I was named the Framingham High School (FHS) Girls Varsity Hockey Coach one month after a Title IX complaint was filed against my program in 2018. 

I am also a Special Education teacher at FHS, the FHS Freshman Softball Coach, and, best of all, I am an FHS alumna from the class of 2013. 

In my years as a Student-Athlete at FHS, I was a four-year Varsity hockey and softball team member.  I was captain of the girls hockey team and helped lead the softball team to Framingham High’s first Bay State Conference Title in 10 years. 

After my years in Framingham, I was incredibly lucky to play four years of Division 1 College Hockey at Franklin Pierce University.  So, although I was hired relatively recently after the complaint was filed, I consider myself well-informed as to the situation of girl’s athletics at FHS, both today and in the past.

I am a Flyer. I bleed blue and white.  I love Framingham and I have dedicated my professional and coaching careers to improving both academic and athletic experiences for the youth of our city. 

Being named FHS’s Girls Varsity Hockey Coach was one of the proudest moments of my life.  It is a job that I knew would require great responsibility, hard work and resourcefulness.

So, I got to work.  I found a group of parents willing to listen to my ideas and hopes for our future, and who were willing to do the hard work of fundraising to help make it happen. 

I found like-minded female coaches who embodied and embraced what we were building.  And, most importantly, I sought the help and advice of our Athletic Director and former Boys Varsity Hockey Coach, Paul Spear. 

At every turn, my coaching staff and I have been met with positivity and enthusiasm.  Not once have we been turned down or told “no” when we have made requests for the betterment of our team – not from parents, not from the community and certainly not from Framingham High, the Athletics Department, or Coach Spear.

By the start of my second season as the Head Coach, the FHS Girls Hockey program had upgraded our outdated uniforms and gear to be more in-line with the other Bay State League team we play.  We have been allocated game times to mirror what the Boys Varsity had always been given.  Our team began to participate in the Fall Classic Tournament in Falmouth right alongside our Boys team.  Many of the changes were made as the result of simply wondering why things were done a certain way, discussing it with the Athletic Director, and then rolling up our collective sleeves to do the work to make things happen.

Not one time did Coach Spear push back, balk at a request or offer anything less than his full support to anything that we asked for to make our female athletics program better.   

Now, at the start of my 4th year, we continue to look at how we do things, ask questions, and make improvements. This has, and will always be, a work in progress to better the experience for our players.  I am proud of that.  

Prior to my arrival at FHS as a Coach, the Girls Hockey Coaching position had seen some rapid turnover and stale coaching which left little room for long term planning and development.  As a player during that time, I know that there was much that could have been done better if we had had the leadership to make it so.  I am here to tell you that those days are over, and that leadership is here now.  Paul Spear, as the Athletic Director, has been instrumental in that change.

The attitude of “we do it this way because that’s how we always have done it” is gone. Coaches need to be the most vocal supporters of their programs, and at the end of the day, it is our job to fight for our players. That is what my coaching staff and I have done and will always continue to do. 

Framingham High’s Administration and Athletics Department have given us a tremendous amount of support along the way.

Now, none of this is to discredit the audit or the concerns of the School Committee.  I agree that we will have a long way to go, but I ask that we do that thoughtfully and with an eye to the future.  The audit was not perfect by any means. 

I am sure the young women on the State Champion Dance and Cheer squads are surprised to hear that they are not considered “athletes”. 

I am surprised that it was barely noted that many of the issues around equity and access are not, in fact, Framingham High policies at all, but those of the Parks & Recreation Department for the City of Framingham.

And, as we know, the expenses, size, scale, and diversity of individual teams varies wildly and so I caution the School Committee against any action that would make it harder for us – all of us – to raise funds through our own fundraising avenues.  Pooling of all fundraising dollars to be distributed by a committee is not the answer here.  Not all coaches need or want to fundraise for their team; for others it is essential to keeping things equitable for all players. 

I want to leave you with one final thought.  During the independent auditor’s time in Framingham, I spent more than two hours on a Google Meet call with her.  She asked me question after question about my program, my fundraising, and why I do the things I do.  I told her, “I want my kids to have the experience I didn’t- they deserve nice things, and they deserve to be proud of being a Flyer.”  She paused and her exact words were, “You just described Title IX.  You are doing everything right and your excitement for your program makes me excited for them.” 

You’ll notice not a single word of what I just wrote was mentioned in her report or the audit.  In fact, my program, the one that was the basis for the complaint, is barely mentioned.  None of my players, past or present, were interviewed. 

Thank you for your time, your consideration, and your support. 

If there is a Committee created surrounding Title IX, the betterment of female athletes, ways to improve athletics for girls or anything like that…well, I am at Framingham High School every day and I would love a seat at the table next to Coach Spear who has supported my endeavors since Day 1. 

I also challenge our School Committee members and City Leaders to do a better job themselves of supporting our female athletes.  I’ve seen and spoken to some of you at
Framingham High Football, boys Hockey, boys Soccer and boys Lacrosse games, but Paul Spear, Carrie Banach and Bob Tremblay are the only ones I’ve seen at an FHS Girls Varsity Hockey game in my time here as Coach. 

You cannot fight this fight without being an equitable supporter yourself.  Framingham High has some darn good female athletes – you should come see them play!

So, I invite you to come support your Framingham High School Girls Varsity Hockey team at Loring Arena on Thursday, December 9 at 7:50 p.m. as we begin our 25th Season.  Our players, our coaches, our families, and I would all love to see you there. Like I’ve said my entire life…Go Flyers.

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Casey Diana is a Framingham High star athlete, a graduate of Framingham High School, a special education teacher in the Framingham Public Schools, and the girls varsity ice hockey coach at Framingham High.

editor

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