The Kelowna Secondary school pep rally was buzzing with energy this year. The MC’s were doing an amazing job at keeping the school engaged, playing games with the audience and hyping up the energy. From where I sat in the bleachers I could feel the buzz and couldn’t help the smile that came to my face, the feeling was infectious.
I have always despised pep rallies. I always thought they were cliche and overrated. Granted I still think that, but this year there was a different feeling going around the gym. As soon as the Dance team took the spotlight, I couldn’t tear my eyes from them. The coach and the girls have worked so hard to build up the team in the past three years, and their hard work has definitely paid off. They looked amazing and definitely brought their “A-game”. Up until the promotion video for the basketball teams, the energy was high and pumping throughout the gymnasium. As soon as the boys basketball team entered the gym at a run then shooting baskets, the energy peeked. When the girls walked calmly in behind them and took a seat on the benches while watching the boys, there was a shift in energy around me. Noticeably shoulders slumped, and a heavy feeling settled in.
Out on the court the feeling was the same, at least it was from the girls point of view. “We felt really awkward” said Jaeli Ibbetson, co-captain of the KSS girls basketball team in a joint interview with co-captain Kennedy Dickie. “We were thinking, What should do we do right now?”. Kennedy commented that “I don’t think any of us are really happy”, going on to say that it felt “Belittling to all of us”. Although the girls are ranked number five in the province, they seem to get less support then our boys team, being told, “Oh, you can make a tunnel for the guys to run through,” by the pep rally coordinators.
Our girls have some big accomplishments under their belts. From being awarded first team all stars, to community sports hero awards, to getting signed with a full ride scholarship to Eastern Washington University. Our girls are going big or going home, so to speak.
The way we treat our girls basketball team needs to be reevaluated; they deserve just as much support as our boys teams, being treated with equity. Even though the girls didn’t play in Westerns this year due to the other girls teams dropping out, two years ago Westerns started allowing both boys and girls teams to play. “It was a really big thing,” Kennedy Dickie stated. Being allowed to play in the same tournament was a huge step toward gender equality throughout school sports. Westerns has been around for a total of forty-six years, and out of those forty-six, only two years girls allowed to play.
From what I can gather, the mix up at the 2019 pep rally boils down to miscommunication and lack of organization. According to some school sources, the root of the problem is that there is not enough communication between the two groups. The girls’ entrance was a last minute decision, a spontaneous gesture.
There was no conscious decision to leave the girls out, or to put them down. Hopefully, next year more time will be spent planning to equally honour the boys’ and girls’ teams. KSS has learnt a lesson this year, one small thing being overlooked can lead to larger consequences and repercussions. We need to be a little more conscious about what we are showcasing and how we represent our teams and students.