Hannah O’Daniel puts up a three-point shot in the first half of the Yakutat game. Katie Emmets

SHS girls endure some harassment, but play well with boys

Both girls make all-conference team

By KATIE EMMETS

This was a year of firsts for two Skagway High School students.
First time being hit on during a game, first time not taken seriously as an athlete, first time proving to people they deserved to be on a basketball court.
After five years of having separate boy’s and girl’s basketball teams at Skagway School, the team was forced to go co-ed because of dwindling high school numbers.
The last time Skagway School had a co-ed basketball team was during the 2005-2006 school year.
Though she said she missed playing with girls she’s been on a basketball court with since middle school, senior Polly Brown said she liked the higher level of intensity that comes with playing on a boy’s team.
“Everyone on the court is bigger and faster than you, so it makes you work harder,” she said.
Junior Hannah O’Daniel said she liked the switch because it’s made her a clever player.
“I’ve been playing a lot smarter and faking (passes and shots) a lot more,” she said. “You have to when you’re on a boy’s team.”
Both girls earned an amount of playing time that correlated with their skill level, not with their gender.
Brown was part of the starting five and a scorer, and O’Daniel made regular appearances on the court in every game, and also has a good shot.
And even though they were each treated as one of the guys by their teammates, both girls agreed they experienced inequality from other teams, coaches and fans.
“It’s kind of like you’re a joke,” O’Daniel said of being a girl on a boy’s team. “But I’m a player, and I’m here to play just like everybody else.”
In one game, O’Daniel was fouled and knocked to the ground while shooting a three-pointer.
“People were gasping and saying things like ‘oh my god!’ and ‘help her up!’ ” she said. “It was really upsetting. They wouldn’t do that if I was a boy.”
Brown also encountered some gender related issues on the court while playing a tournament in Tok.
While setting up around the free-throw line waiting for Skagway’s Airk Cochran to shoot, a player from the opposite team hit on her.
“He told me I had nice hair,” she said. “I was just trying to be nice, so I said thanks, but then he asked if I wanted to talk to him after the game.”
Later in the game, and again waiting for someone to shoot a foul shot, a different player from the opposing team told Brown she had nice eyes.
This time, she paid no attention to the compliment and instead boxed the boy out, got the rebound and made a lay-up.
Brown made the girls all-tournament team for her play in the Tok tournament.
Both girls said they really liked the drama-free atmosphere being on a boy’s team provides.
“There’s not any cattiness like you get on a girl’s team,” O’Daniel said. “The boys don’t stay mad about things.”
Though they agree there are both positives and negatives of playing for a co-ed team, the girls also agree that they couldn’t have been on an all-girls team this year after watching girl’s teams play at the 1A Region V tournament last week.
“Everything was so much slower,” Brown said. “I don’t think I could have done that.”
O’Daniel said that even if Skagway School has a girl’s team next year, she would prefer to play on the boy’s team because it challenges her and makes her a better player.
“It was a really good learning experience for the boys and girls to play with each other,” said coach Kent Fielding.
The boys really accepted the girls, which you don’t see with a lot of co-ed teams, Fielding said.
“There were some co-ed teams whose girls don’t play at all,” he said. “And if they do play, they are on the court, but they don’t actually play.”
Fielding said the Panthers had a hard time being taken seriously this year with its co-ed roster, but he is proud of how the players handled themselves and how they played together.
Fielding, who also coaches cross country and track and field, and teaches English and history, said he enjoyed his first year coaching basketball and will be doing it again next year.
The Panthers will be graduating Brown, Cochran and Nick Ackerman, three of five starters, but will retain starters Trevor Cox, who made the boy’s Region V 1A All Conference team, and Zack Wassman. Donovan Henson, who was lead scorer in one of this season’s games, will also be a key player next year along with O’Daniel, who made the girl’s Region V 1A All Conference team and won the girl’s free throw contest. Brown also made the girl’s Region V 1A All Conference team and Cochran came in second in the boy’s free throw competition.