Girls still can’t yell


Laura Veldhoff

Picture of West Ottawa’s Black Hole at a friday night football game.

Sidney Kuyper

In 2019, West Ottawa had never had a girl lead our school’s student section. The West Ottawan published an article titled “Girls can’t yell” addressing the issue. Later that year, the school changed the rules to create a more fair system for picking the leaders.

   In 2022, West Ottawa has still never had a girl lead our student section.

   The Black Hole, originating in 2003, received its name from the idea that after entering, there’s no turning back. Filling up the entire bleachers to the point where people are forced to sit on the edges, it’s safe to say the Black Hole intimidates other schools with its cheering, rumbling, and booing every Friday night.  

   Each year two seniors are selected to lead the Black Hole. They are responsible for organizing everything from themes to chants. These students are usually the loudest, most energetic, and most well-spirited. 

   Since the start, the rules gave the previous Black Hole leaders the power to select the next two, leading people to believe that because of this method, the guys would just pick their younger friends and we would be stuck in a never-ending loop of males. 

   So, a few years ago, the policy changed to a school wide vote, one similar to homecoming nominations. 

   Little did they know that the problem wasn’t within the system, but within the people. 

   West Ottawa’s current leaders have done an excellent job and are completely worthy of their election. But what’s not to say that a girl could have done equally as well?

   When it’s mentioned that women are never voted, people make excuses instead of admitting they are voting due to the belief that females aren’t fit for the role.

   Sr. Claire Johnson, one of the runner-ups for the 2022-23 school year leaders, said, “I feel like people just have this stigma that if a girl were to lead, no one would listen to us because we aren’t as loud or don’t understand the game like guys do. But there are around 2000 people at this school. There’s absolutely no way there isn’t a single girl capable of the qualifications meant for our leaders. People are just too stubborn to admit it.” 

   Schools around us have shown that having a girl as a leader isn’t abnormal. Caledonia has three leaders; one is a girl. Zeeland West has eight leaders, four girls. And Zeeland East typically has six leaders, three girls. 

   “No one at Zeeland has a problem with having girl leaders, from what I know of. Everyone contributes in their own way, it doesn’t matter who they are,” Zeeland Jr. Nick Lloyd said.

   Women’s struggle for leadership positions is still, and has always been, a statistically proven problem throughout the world, as women hold around 30-40% of leadership positions. 

   Not only would it be a good step in the right direction for normalizing equality in sports, but it would also provide more opportunities. Including, but not limited to, more attendance at women’s sporting events, and minimizing any possible circumstances of gender inequality in our Black Hole. 

   “Why not get more people involved and have a female student section leader? We need that. The leader of our school is a female, so why can’t we have the leader of the Black Hole also be a female?” West Ottawa women’s varsity basketball coach Paul Chapman said.

   I mean, it did take 63 years of being a district for West Ottawa High School to have a female principal, so maybe we need to wake up and select a girl or two to lead the Black Hole.