East High School girls basketball coach ‘appalled’ by alleged transportation inequity between girls and boys teams

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 7:41 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An Anchorage high school girls basketball coach is alleging unequal treatment over how her team was transported to the state basketball tournament.

The East High School girls and boys basketball teams qualified for the Alaska School Activities Association State Tournament. When both teams left for their first games on Thursday, the boys left in a charter bus while the girls took a smaller school bus.

“What am I shocked by is that they thought this was going to be done under my watch and I would say nothing,” said Laura Ingham, the head coach of the girls basketball team. “This is about self-esteem about building young women and men to go out into this community.”

When the Thunderbirds clinched a spot in the state tournament, Ingham said she did a normal travel request with the Anchorage School District.

“What we are looking at is a matter of logistics, timing,” said ASD communications director Alan Brown. “It has nothing to do with who the team is, or what the activity is. It’s all based on the availability of the buses.”

Brown added that the district’s priority is to have their teams travel on Anchorage school buses, the second option is a First Student bus from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the final option is a Premier Alaska Tour Bus.

On Thursday, the East High School boys left for their 2:00 p.m. game at Palmer High School.

According to Brown, the only option for the team was a Premier Alaska Tour Bus. When the East High School girls left for their 4:00 p.m. game at Wasilla High School, a First Student Bus was chosen. Once the games were over, the boys returned on a school bus, and the girls traveled to Friday’s game on a charter bus.

The bus pictured on the left is what the East High School girls basketball team took to the...
The bus pictured on the left is what the East High School girls basketball team took to the state tournament on Thursday. The bus pictured on the right is the charter bus taken by the East High School Boys basketball team.(Laura Ingham)

“To give me a charter bus today was to pacify me and that’s not okay,” Ingham said. “I didn’t accept any reason or excuses that were given because all of them were unacceptable.”

Ingham was a standout for the Thunderbirds girls basketball team from 1994-98 and went on to play at the NCAA Div. I level for Ohio State and the University of Nevada Reno. The former standout felt her team’s transportation issues spoke to a bigger conversation nationally about the differences between men’s and women’s sports.

Ingham specifically pointed out the recent issue at the NCAA basketball tournament when the inequities between the men’s and women’s weight room facilities went viral on social media.

“The fact the East High girls’ team felt that is truly unfortunate,” Brown said. “The district certainly welcomes the conversation to talk through any misunderstandings.”

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