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Grant High School to reopen with new baseball field but no softball field

The players say this isn't a baseball versus softball fight, but feel they are being disrespected by the district, forgotten and cast aside.

PORTLAND, Ore. — When voters passed a school bond measure in 2012, the money was supposed to upgrade Grant High School and the athletic fields. 

At the time, up and coming softball players like Rhylie Woodley were excited.

"There were so many parts of the plan that I was really hyped about. Obviously, the biggest thing was the softball field," she said.

Woodley will be a senior this year. Her only year to play on what she hoped was going to be a new field.

In 2017, citing operational and budget concerns, the softball field was cut from the design. Construction started on the school and after two years, the doors will finally open this year.

"I've been really excited about it. I'm super happy about being able to experience it for a year," Woodley said.

There's one thing she's not happy about, though. There won't be a softball field for her team to play on when spring sports start. There is, however, a new baseball field.

"It makes me really angry. It makes me so angry because it's such a gorgeous field and they really went all out for it and the dugouts are beautiful and it's so beautiful," Woodley said.

Credit: KGW
New baseball field at Grant High School in Portland

Woodley's dad, Rodney, noticed the new field when the construction fencing came down.

"It just really struck me that day that the girls won't have the same opportunity, my daughter especially," he said.

Jason Myers is stuck in the middle. His son will play baseball and his daughter will play softball.

"I love it, the field's awesome. I'm excited for all the boys that play baseball," he said. "I'm pro-baseball and I'm pro-softball, so I'd like to see them have a place to compete."

For now, Woodley said the team will play their games a mile away at Wilshire Park, on the same fields that the local Little League teams play on. It's a field she's very familiar with and not a fan of.

"There's no fence, it's super bumpy. It's just like younger Little League teams play on it all the time. It's not really a high-quality field," she said.

Credit: KGW
Field at Wilshire Park

The players say this isn't a baseball versus softball fight, but feel they are being disrespected by the district, forgotten and cast aside.

"By building this field and not giving us our own, they're still sending a message that we're still not enough. We're still not at that same level. You don't get a field, you can play at the public park. It makes me furious." Woodley said.

A document from 2017 cites in part: 

The softball field was identified as a program element that could be added back later with minimal impact to Grant students and staff. Coming back to complete field work is much easier than attempting to add or modify program space within the existing building where it is either occupied, or there are very limited construction periods available during the summer.

According to the district's website, there are multiple ideas for a new field. One would be redesigning the Grant Bowl, where the team has played during construction. New additions would bring two softball fields, bleachers and new lighting. The website states that the Grant Bowl project should be completed by 2021.

Portland Public Schools did not respond for comment to multiple email requests throughout Wednesday.

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