Perhaps the most challenging part of being a member of the Sacred Heart High School basketball team is the one-mile long journey the girls must travel to get to the Lincoln Park Recreation Center where the team practices. The girls endure the taunts and leers from men and motorists as they jog or walk during their 15-minute trip through Lincoln Heights, said L.A. Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke. He provides a sample of what the members of the Sacred Hearts Comets are up against after they leave the school grounds:
They will pass a barber shop where men will turn their half-shaved heads and shout. They will pass a dry cleaner whose curb is home to a man who reaches out to them from his cardboard box.
One minute, they feel the breath of charging pit bulls, the next minute they hear the whistle of a tattooed wolf, and eventually they will be confronted by the leering driver of a squeaking Chevy that has slowed to bounce alongside them. It’s always somebody like him, and, confronted with the sight of a group of young women walking through gang territory in the middle of the afternoon, he always asks the same question.
“Where you going, ladies?”
The athletes must travel off campus because the 105-year-old Catholic girls school has no gym. In contrast, two of the Catholic boys school serving the Eastside – Cathedral and Salesian – have relatively new athletic facilities, Plaschke notes. Plans to convert a former convent on the Sacred Heart campus have been postponed after a weak economy has plagued fundraising effort. School officials recently launched the first-ever Comets booster club to raise support.