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FRAMINGHAM – In 2022, America celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 “(Title IX) “prohibits sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”.

Title IX mandates schools allocate athletic participation opportunities in a nondiscriminatory way, which means that they have to provide women/girls with equal opportunities to play sports as men/boys.

Fifty years later, and there is still work to be done, including here in MetroWest.

Keefe Technical Regional High School in Framingham offers three times as many varsity sports for boys than it offers girls.

Not counting cheerleading, which is a co-ed team, three are just three varsity sports for girls – volleyball in the fall, track & field in the spring, and the newly-created girls cross-country team in the fall.

While Keefe Tech does offer soccer, basketball, and softball for girl athletes, all three of those sports are only available as non-varsity sports.

However, there is a varsity boys soccer team, a varsity boys basketball team, and a varsity boys baseball team.

In fact, there are nine varsity sports available for boys and just three for girls. (See screen shots below)

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Because Title IX allows sports teams to be separated by sex, schools can decide how many spots on teams they will give to women/girls, but the opportunities must be equal and fair.

For example, the percentages of spots on teams allocated to men/boys and women/girls are roughly the same as their enrollment percentages. So if 40% of the school is girls, at least 40% of the opportunities for sports but be for girls.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Keefe Tech has 842 students, of which 363 are girls and 469 are boys. That means 43% of the students are girls.

SOURCE asked questions of the Keefe Tech Athletic Director in November about the difference in boys varsity sports and girls varsity sports offered at the high school. The athletic director instead had the Vice Principal of the school Ken Collins speak to the digital media outlet. Collins is the junior varsity girls basketball coach and the girls track & field coach for Keefe Tech.

“We make decisions that are based best in the best interest of kids and student athletes. And I’ve been on both sides of things here at Keefe Tech, where we’ve had really successful programs and really good teams, where we’ve won league championships, and unfortunately I’ve been part of programs where we play the varsity level and we get beaten pretty badly and it’s not good for kids. I’ve got kids of my own and I’ve coached here for a long time and putting high school sports is all about putting kids in a position where they can grow. They can better themselves as a person,” said Collins.

“I’ve been on bus rides home where it has not been positive experiences because we haven’t had an opportunity to compete. And I think as a coach, it’s awesome when you get to compete. Right now, at JV level, I know our softball, our girls softball team last year went 3-7-1 at a JV level and it wouldn’t have been fair to the kids to put ’em at a varsity level because they wouldn’t have been able to compete at that time. And I know our girls basketball team last year went 5-7 and we’re getting better,” said Collins.

This past fall, the “JV girl soccer team had a little bit more success. They went 7-5 at the JV level and it’s the same thing. Our goal is to get to that varsity level, but we wanna make sure we’re thoughtful about that and do what’s right for kids,” said Collins.

“I can speak better about our basketball team than I can on our soccer team because I’m more involved in that,” said Collins. “I’ve seen the soccer players play. We need to be able to have a consistent program and I don’t think it does anybody good for the girls to lose game after game, at a varsity level.”

“For me, we have positive experiences at the JV level and I would be disappointed if I went 0-20 and was getting killed in basketball, cause it’s not good for my kids,” said Coach Collins.

His Junior varsity team is 4-1 as of the beginning of January 2023.

“They get that experience and we talk about it at the beginning of the season and I’m sure it runs through the kids’ heads from time to time and they say I wish we were varsity. But I don’t think any kids are thinking like that after we play a game and we win by eight or nine points and we’re on the bus ride home and the girls are happy and they’re excited And it was such a positive experience because they won,” said Coach Collins.

“I’ll never forget we had a bunch of girls crying on the bus ride home on, we played a team and we lost by 40 points and this was when we were at the varsity level,” said Coach Collins.

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Keefe had varsity programs at one time for soccer and basketball, but now they are just junior varsity.

The basketball program has been junior varsity only, for the girls, for about five or six years, said Collins.

Persistence, grit, determination, learning from your mistakes, improves a sports program.

Sports is not just about about winning, there are lessons in losing, too.

Two Framingham High girls sports teams are proof of that.

During the 2015-2016 hoop season, the Framingham High girls varsity program went 0-20. In 2016, in came Framingham High girls varsity basketball head coach Kristen Audet-Fucarile, and the Flyers went 5-15 her inaugural season. In her fourth season, they went 10-10, and made the playoffs. Last year, the team was 13-7 in the regular season, and qualified for the playoffs again.

In 2018, Casey Diana, a 2013 Framingham High graduate, took over the struggling Framingham High girls ice hockey program. In the three seasons prior to her arrival on the bench, the Flyers won just 14 total games. The last time they won a playoff game was when she was a Flyer in 2010. In 2022, they won their first playoff game and they are undefeated in the Bay State Conference, thus far this season.

And Keefe Tech does have programs that consistently lose like football, but it remains at the varsity level, with also a junior varsity program.

The Keefe Tech football program was 2-8 in the fall.

Collins said the football program hand picks its games and plays a lot of non-league games.

There are JV only sports for boys at the regional high school.

For example, Keefe Tech does have a junior varsity boys ice hockey team, and no varsity boys ice hockey team. (There is one girl on the JV hockey team.)

There are two girls on the wrestling team, added Collins.

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In Spring 2022, these were the athletes for Keefe Tech:

  • 12 girls track and field athletes
  • 21 boys track and field athletes
  • 28 baseball players
  • 21 junior varsity softball players
  • 30 boys volleyball players

In Fall 2023, these were the athletes for Keefe Tech:

  • 37 girls volleyball players
  • 35 boys football players
  • 34 boys soccer players
  • 22 girls junior varsity soccer players
  • 16 boys golfers
  • 18 boys cross country runners
  • 7 girls cross country runners

Opportunities for girls sports and athletics for girls is increasing at the high school at 750 Winter Street.

Collins said the girls varsity volleyball program in the fall is growing at Keefe Technical High School.

He said it used to be a no cut sport, but this recent fall, 50-60 girls tried out and cuts had to be made.

Volleyball is the only sports program at Keefe Tech for girls, where there is a freshman, junior varsity, and varsity team.

Cross-country for girls returned as a full team sport in 2022 at Keefe Tech

“We had enough to field a varsity girls cross country team this year where in the past we didn’t have enough girls. So it was almost, they ran in the same meet, but they couldn’t score because they didn’t have five girls. This year coach (Jeff) Beling has done an awesome job and he had a girls varsity cross country team this year,” said Collins. The girls even won a meet in their first season – their first since 2013.

Collins told SOURCE that the girls soccer program could be elevated to a varsity program for the 2023 season.

Collins hopes the basketball program for the girls will go varsity soon too.

“My goal right now is to be able to play varsity basketball next year where we have three or four freshmen that can play a little bit, but we are not ready for that varsity level yet,” said Coach Collins. It’s not fair to anybody. It is not fair to the other team. It’s not fair to the kids at Keefe Tech if we’re putting them in positions where it’s not a positive experience for them.”

But while some opportunities for girls sports are increasing at Keefe Tech, not all are.

The boys soccer program made the playoffs. The girls soccer team, despite a winning record, had no post-season opportunity as the program was junior varsity.

“The soccer program here – the boys soccer team has been very good for years. We had a girls varsity soccer team that did pretty well. And then over the years for whatever reason, and honestly I think it was the volleyball team, when we started a volleyball team here a lot of the kids went to volleyball and left the soccer program,” said Collins. “We weren’t able to field the soccer team. I remember back when probably in the ’90s and the early 2022, we had soccer teams and we couldn’t field a team, we was sending kids on a bus with 11 girls and we weren’t able to have enough kids. And then that varsity program left us, unfortunately.”

About five or six years ago, girls soccer came back.

“We brought it back and that’s where we started with the JV program because we didn’t have a program at that time, so we weren’t gonna start those kids at a varsity level. So we started at a JV level,” said Collins.

“I think this is really the first year they’ve been over 500. But that doesn’t necessarily make them a varsity soccer team. That’s certainly a step in the right direction. And again, as we build, I’d like to see us have 35 girls go out for the soccer team and then have a varsity and run a JV program as well. And yet those talks are in place right now. They’ve gotta make a decision. I don’t think there is an answer yet. But again, I know I keep going back to it. We’re gonna do what’s in the best interest of those kids so they can have a positive experience,” said Collins on if girls soccer would go varsity in 2023.

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“The girls soccer team has done some research about teams in the league and broke down her own numbers to see who would be coming back for next season.  She is optimistic about competing at the varsity level and it is a good possibility for next season and beyond,” said Collins last month.

Collins said Keefe Tech’s athletic director “met with the AD’s around the league last week about the possibility of moving to that level.

“We definitely want the coach to be part of that decision as they know what their athletes can do as we need to continue to make it a positive experience,” said Collins.  

“Girls don’t come to Keefe Tech for athletics. They come to Keefe Tech because of the opportunity for the career and the opportunity to go to college and the opportunity to go to work with career training,” said Collins.

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.