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Lack of soccer and softball fields raises Title IX questions

Arturo Mota, the women’s soccer coach.

Arturo Mota, the women’s soccer coach.

By Morgan Grimmett

Most sports at Chemeketa have quality facilities to accommodate their respective teams.

The volleyball and basketball teams have the luxury of an excellent gymnasium for practice and home games, and the baseball team has a quality field.

The college’s soccer and softball teams aren’t as fortunate.

The coaches for these teams must get creative to find other locations to play home.

Some at the college are not happy with the inconvenience.

Others believe that Chemeketa may not be fully in compliance with Title IX laws, which require colleges to, among many other things, demonstrate equality for men and women’s athletics.

Arturo Mota, the women’s soccer coach, is among those who would like to see the facilities improved.

“It bothers me, and I feel for my players,” he says.

Chemeketa’s soccer teams currently practice and play at the Cascade Futbol Club on Center Street in Salem.

Marty Limbird, Chemeketa’s previous head soccer coach, agrees that a problem exists.

“The soccer field we have here is not regulation, and it is in really rough shape for us to compete on,” he says. “But anybody from an outside perspective sees a soccer field and says, ‘Its fine. Why don’t you just play there?’ ”

Limbird also believes that having a regulation field to use on campus would be highly beneficial for the programs.

“It is frustrating that no one really knows where to see us play,” he says. “It’d be really nice to have students walk across the street and see us play soccer, and softball for that matter.

“We have the worst field in the NWAAC – in the entire league, and the Northwest. But we have had a program that made the final four three out of the five years that I coached. We have the best program but the worst facilities.”

Alberto Gomez, a former Chemeketa soccer player who currently works in the Office of Student Life in Bldg. 2, has been looking into Title IX laws since his playing days.

He says that Title IX is not just about the opportunity for sports programs to be equal in terms of

opportunity; equal treatment also is required.

“There must be a balance of benefits in order to maintain true equality,” he says.

Gomez points out that the softball team plays its home games at Wallace Marine Park in West Salem, miles from the college’s North Salem main campus. This forces long commutes and means that the team must rent the facility for practice and home games.

Playing home games on fields that aren’t part of the campus is not an ideal experience, Gomez says.

“We took pride in the Chemeketa logo on our jerseys but lacked a true home field to call ours, be proud of, and display the pride and skill we worked hard to develop,” he says. “At times, we had three to five different ‘home’ fields in one season.”

Athletic Director Cassie Belmodis, who was the original coach for the Chemeketa softball team, agrees that the situation is not ideal.

“It is our goal to have a complex that both softball and soccer can play their games on campus,” she says. “That is a main goal for the athletic department. But we have been saying that since 2000.

“It is inconvenient to have our teams play off campus.”

Manuel Guerra is Chemeketa’s co-Title IX coordinator. He says the college is aware of the situation and is exploring ways to make improvements.

“We are still trying to figure out how to do an assessment of our facilities,” he says.

One thing is certain: There are no easy solutions. Sports facilities are expensive, and money is in short supply.

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