Safety of athletes, fans top priority for JHS athletics

by Carlos Molina

Recent school threats have changed the way students want to attend sporting events. Some don’t feel safe being at school, let alone a high school game held after school hours.

So how is Jeffersonville High School taking proper precautions to ensure student safety?

“It’s re-evaluating what your safety procedure is,” Jeffersonville High School athletic director Todd Satterly explained. “Right now, we feel comfortable with our policy and the amount of security we have at events. I always have four officers at basketball games and six at football games.”

With football games being the biggest event attended by the community, safety is a major concern — not only for the spectators, but also for the players.

“Player safety, in any sporting event, is a huge concern. Whether its football or basketball, the crowd and students are more so of a concern,” head football coach Alfonzo Browning said. “I think it’s more so of an issue with the way things have played out here recently. There are so many people not being checked, you don’t know what they could be bringing into the building or game for that matter.”

Following the Parkland, Fla. shooting on Feb. 14 that claimed 17 lives, New Albany High School received threats the next day, leading to some frantic parents pulling students from school.

Despite the threat, that evening’s boys basketball game was not canceled, and proceeded as schedule. Satterly kept an eye on the crosstown high school, noting how they handled the situation.

“If (New Albany) still went on, then I’m sure they felt comfortable with continuing. Knowing (NA athletic director) Mr. (Don) Unruh well enough, I would believe as soon as a threat was made, that there was immediate action taken,” Satterly said. “It would be no different here, if we were initiated with a threat. The first phone call is to Mrs. (Julie) Straight, then central administration, and then get the police involved immediately to find out our options. (Finally) we’d notify the opposing school and notify our workers.”

With players being in the spotlight, though, their safety is the number one concern. Senior basketball and baseball player Hunter Schmitz doesn’t feel threatened, or in harm’s way during his games.

”I don’t worry about being safe at sporting events. You shouldn’t need to worry,” Schmitz said. “A precaution we could take is possibly adding more on-duty officers at these events.”

For future references, safety and security will continue to be a pressing matter. For now, spectators will determine the outcome for rules and guidelines.

“People won’t attend your event if they don’t feel safe,” Satterly said. “We plan for every possible scenario so our athletes feel comfortable. Unfortunately, we live in a time where those are things that we have to consider.”

Seven Years Later

Story by Carlos Molina

This year marks the seventh anniversary of the historic season from the Jeffersonville Lady Red Devils basketball team.

In 2011, the Lady Red Devils won the IHSAA 4A state championship, only the fourth state title in school history. (Three of the four state titles have come from female sports team: track – twice – and basketball.)

In the Class 4A championship game, the girls defeated Penn by a score of 42-29. The win vaulted JHS to an overall record of 28 wins and two losses during the season, the best final mark ever from a girls’ team.

During that championship run, head coach Chad Gilbert had the luxury of returning players, partnered with a little bit of luck.

“The experience was one you dream about,” Gilbert, now the athletic director at Charlestown High School, recalls. “To win a state championship, you have to be good and you have to be lucky. The state championship was one that we worked extremely hard for many years to achieve the goal. We felt like we won the state championship for everyone that ever wore a Red Devil uniform before us, and everyone that has worn a Red Devil uniform after us.”

Former basketball player Jamice Williams led the team with 3.8 assist per game, and still reminisces about the championship.

“Winning state meant the world to me,” Williams says. “The team and I worked so hard to accomplish this goal and it was well worth all the sweat and tears. I wish I could put into words how much it actually meant to me, but it’s hard. It was a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Senior Jacinta Gibson is currently a four-year starter on the girls basketball team. Growing up in Jeffersonville, Gibson looked up to the girls’ team that won state.

“Winning a state championship has always been a dream of mine and to see those girls accomplish that gave me a lot of hope for my future as a Red Devil,” Gibson said. “ I look up to all those girls”

Averaging 61.2 points per game during the season, the Lady Red Devils convincingly beat their opponents, winning their regular season games by an average of 31.5 points per contest.

“We had a talented team that were great players, but even better people.The team and coaching stuff really enjoyed being around each other,” Gilbert recalls. “We trusted each other. We believed in each other and we know when we walked out on the court together we would not be defeated.”