EHS softball alleges sex discrimination based on facility access; district says there’s equitable support for all athletics

Growing discontent among coaches and parents about the lack of practice space have led to a request for a dedicated practice/game field.

The coach of Enumclaw High School’s softball team says the school district does not provide the same opportunity for practice and playing fields as the school’s baseball program.

Enumclaw High School softball played at the state level the last two years: this year, they placed in the top dozen, and in 2023, placed fifth.

However, parents and coaches said that the team could have done better — if they had a field to practice and host games on.

Quinn Haney, former EHS softball player and now head softball coach for two years, spoke at an April 22 Enumclaw School District Board Meeting.

Haney said “this has been an ongoing issue since before I was here, of us just not having the same access of facilities as baseball.”

Haney, and other coaches and parents, have complained that the practice fields are too muddy to play on, or have other issues. Field #3 and #4 are typically used by the softball team.

“The bases are not down. The fields are not dry,” she said. “It’s unsafe.”

The district has been trying to make repairs to Field #3 for at least two years, but this seems to no longer appease parents and coaches.

“Baseball gets [a field] exclusively to themselves,” Haney said, referencing Osborne Field. “They don’t have to rent that field out. They don’t allow the community to use it. They can practice whenever they want. The can reschedule games whenever they want. We are not allowed to do that.”

All of these issues, Haney said, are Title IX infractions.

Title IX requires that any school that receives federal funds must not discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.


Haney and several others have said Field #3 has been unavailable to the EHS softball team for some time; if not because of the rain, then because of construction on the field in order to improve it.

And when the team could practice on Field #4, the said, the bases are not always secured to the ground, making them dangerous to use. This was in part to the field being interchangeable between baseball and softball, they said.

Engebretsen said this isn’t just a softball field issue, but all the fields are having similar problems, in part because they were built 25 years ago.

“The softball fields are in the same condition as all of the fields located on ESD property,” Engebretsen said. “The age of the fields and the amount of clay in the soil makes drainage a very difficult situation during the rainy season.”

Because Field #3 and #4 were often unavailable, the team had to practice indoors with altered equipment, like softer balls. One parent said this severely severely affected the team’s performance, since the athletes couldn’t practice with the same equipment they played games with.

“Practicing indoors definitely is different than being outside but we do offer a space for hitting and pitching as well as specific skill development for each sport,” Engebretsen said, adding that softer balls have to be used to reduce damage to the facilities, built when the high school was last remodeled in 2019.


According to Haney, out of 48 total softball practices, 20 were inside.

Additionally, out of the 26 outside practices left (two were canceled), at least five were held on turf fields only, as well as at least another two on grass or cages only, meaning the team was limited to practicing certain softball skills.

Another four were held at Southwood Elementary, though Haney said it’s unclear how many of those practices were on the field or just in the grass.

That leaves, at best, 19 practices on a proper softball field, less than 40% of all scheduled practices.

She noted that two of those had to be held on non-school property.

According to EHS Athletic Director Jennifer Pugh, the varsity baseball team encountered the same difficulties.

“We had a lot of practices moved indoors this spring because of weather,” she said in an email interview. And while she didn’t log each days’ practice location for softball and baseball, “the two teams were very similar in terms of missing outdoor practice days due to weather.”

The same practice information was requested from ESD, but was not provided by print deadline.


The Enumclaw School District has spent the last two years attempting to repair Field #3, but parents and coaches have become frustrated by the lack of progress.

“It’s draining worse than it ever did,” one parent said.

According to Engebretsen, the district budgeted $30,000 to repair the field by replacing the infield dirt and improve drainage. That’s not all from the district’s coffers — a $10,000 grant was provided by King County and another $7,000 from the EHS Associated Student body.

This project began in 2022, but is yet to be complete. A little more than $20,000 has already been spent replacing the infield and improving drainage, Engebretsen said, and the project was scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2024, Engebretsen said

“Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and Field #3 has not been playable for athletes to use this spring for practice because of the difficulty to get the field dried out for use,” he continued.

Haney also alleges that the work being done on Field #3 is being done incorrectly and “not using [our] experience about where the money should go and the work being done.”


While practices have been one issue, hosting games at the Boise Creek Sixplex has also been an issue, Haneyand others have said.

At the April 22 meeting, Haney brought up the difficulties with re-scheduling games at the Sixplex, which is ran and maintained by the city of Enumclaw.

“They say we have first priority, but we don’t,” she said. “Any reschedules cannot be at the time we want… we can’t have any evening reschedules, there’s limited times and dates, we can’t have weekends.”

Alina Hibbs, Enumclaw’s Parks and Rec director, said that she agrees EHS softball has difficulty rescheduling.

“While we do give them priority pick at the beginning of the season other user groups get picks after them which then fill up schedule making the rescheduling of games extremely difficult,” she said in an email interview. “However, I have checked in with staff and am unaware of a time that little league has been granted access to the Sixplex at times when they were denied.”

Other parents and coaches have said that the Sixplex has canceled games at the merest instance of rain.

However, a spreadsheet compiled by coaches shows that only two of the 12 games scheduled for the Sixplex were rained out, and one was rescheduled at Fife High School.

Four were canceled for unclear reasons at this time; two were rescheduled at home later, and another was moved to Fife.


With the softball team facing all these issues, Haney and other softball coaches and parents want a dedicated field like Osborne Field. Osborne is reserved solely for baseball because of the grass infield (softball has dirt infields) and the spacing between the bases, which is longer than softball spacing.

“We should really have our own field,” Haney said. “… I understand that [the board is] putting in money, stuff has been updated, but that doesn’t change the fact that we do not have access to our own facilities.”

According to Engebretsen, policy changes and updates to the field that started in 2022 included restricting the use of Field #3 to softball only; added “Enumclaw Softball” to padding and boards to the backstop; replaced the home and pitching plates; purchased temporary outfield fencing, and painted team benches and power washed the bleachers.

But to create a dedicated field for softball, he continued, would mean passing a bond.

Locals may recall the $253 million school district bond that would have brought in funds to build two new elementary schools (one with a Birth-to-Five center), a new high school performing arts center, a new sports stadium, and provide money for various other repairs and upgrades around the district.

Inside that bond measure was a $2.4 million proposal to replace Field #3 with a dedicated field like Osborne, complete with restrooms, concessions, two covered batting cages, dugouts, scoreboard, a sound system, and more.

But locals may also recall that this bond measure was rejected by 75% of voters.

“ESD does not have funding available to move the Softball Home competitive field from Boise Creek to Field #3,” Engebretsen said. “ESD asked voters to approve this work due to the significant cost of construction and local voters did not approve this proposal… If there is community support and a desire to build a competitive field to replace practice field #3 at its current location on McDougall Ave. the district would be willing to support these efforts, but can not commit to funding the project at this time.”

Engebretsen pointed out that Osborne Field, built in the 70s and 80s, was a community project but supported by ESD, though records regarding finances were not immediately available due to how long ago the project was undertaken.


According to Haney, the lack of softball access to their facilities and the inequality between baseball’s dedicated field and the softball’s use of the Boise Creek Sixplex can be chalked up to Title IX infractions for sex discrimination.

Haney specifically highlighted the portion of Title IX that lays out that schools need to consider, when being fair similar sports, that “the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes” for locker rooms and practice/competitive facilities.

Engebretsen said the school district provides “equitable funding and support for all the athletic fields” run by ESD.

Enumclaw softball junior Bella Aubrey and other members pose for the camera during an indoor practice on March 12. According to, there was no rain that day, but Coach Quinn Haney could not confirm if this was the reason they practiced inside. Photo by EHS softball