By Aaron Blevins, 4/19/2012
Fairfax High Players Previously Had to Use General P.E. Facility
In the past, Fairfax High School football players used their regular lockers to house their shoulder pads after practice. Their helmets didn’t fit, but they would try anyway, chipping the paint off their facemasks.
“They’d have to take their helmets home and bring them back,” head football coach Shane Cox said.
Technically, the team’s locker room was the physical education locker room, which was utilized by all male students. It was not secure, and sometimes, the players’ belonging would get stolen.
That situation all changed this offseason, when Cox, some volunteers and some friendly community businesses teamed up to give the Lions their own cages. The work is almost completed, and when the locker room is finished, the team will have collegiate-style digs for next season.
“Man, it’s so exciting,” Cox said. “The kids are really, really excited.”
The story of how the locker room came to be begins with last year’s NBA All-Star Game, which was held at the Staples Center. Nike selected the Fairfax men’s basketball team as the recipients of a new locker room, which was celebrated. However, it also created a Title IX issue for the school. Title IX requires boys’ and girls’ athletic teams to receive equal treatment.
“What’s good enough for the boys is good enough for the girls,” assistant principal Dave Siedelman said.
So began the quest to fit the girls’ team with a locker room of its own. Coach Judi Edwards said the team, which has fundraisers continuously, had some extra money leftover from previous fundraisers in its trust fund.
Edwards also solicited volunteer help from the Melrose Trading Post, a Fairfax High School teacher’s aide and an assistant coach. Work commenced, and the grand opening was celebrated in November.
“It was really a Fairfax community [project],” Edwards said.
In need of a locker room as well, the football team joined the initiative. The team, which will be enjoying a new field this season, did not receive new locker rooms as part of the field’s construction. Therefore, the team started fundraising as well.
Through previous donations, selling discount cards and a loan from the Melrose Trading Post, the team secured the $20,000 it needed to construct the locker rooms. Administrators secured the space and donation of paint from the Los Angeles Unified School District. Cox and some of his friends who work in the construction industry then began the extensive labor, working nights and weekends for three months.
“It looks really, really nice,” Cox said.
Both the girls’ basketball team and the football team got stadium-style lockers in which the bottom storage area doubles as a seat. Edwards said the locker room, which cost $5,000, now offers a collegiate environment.
“It really helps give the players accountability,” she said, adding that she got the vision from Mater Dei High School after competing against the school recently. “The more pride we put into their work, the more it pays off for the school in the long run.”
Siedelman praised the efforts of the coaches for taking the initiative to construct new locker rooms. As a former coach, he said it should create better results for the programs and their participants.
“It’s definitely teamwork,” Siedelman said. “That’s what high school is all about — working together as a team. They’re taking pride and ownership. That’s a huge positive.”