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'We always fight every day just to prove our worth': John Marshall girls' basketball team pleading for financial support

Posted at 7:00 AM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 14:56:17-04

CLEVELAND — Their basketball season was benched last year because of COVID-19. Now, the John Marshall High School girls’ team is back to fight for more financial support and a winning season.

“We deserve the same chance and the same amount of stuff that every other school that we’re playing has,” said Adrianna Ruble, a Junior at John Marshall High School.

The team of young girls says their worth is constantly questioned.

“Us girls we always fight every day just to prove our worth here to prove that we need the stuff,” said Adlih Gonzalez, a senior at John Marshall High School.

Gonzalez says she and her teammates have carried the weight of limited school funding, resources and opportunities on their shoulders for far too long.

“My sophomore year we actually had to like sell snacks,” she explained. “The girls had to get together and try to do this just so we could get traveling suits.”

Ruble, sharing the same experience, says she’s used to the hustle and having to work hard alongside her teammates off the court in an effort to try to level the playing field on the court.

John Marshall High School students compete in dribbling drill during the girls' basketball team tryouts and conditioning session.

"We have to like come out of pocket for everything,” Ruble said. “We don’t have the transportation. We didn’t have the summer leagues that were paid for, for us.”

Ruble added, “we have a lot of first-year girls like a lot of girls who have never played basketball before. They’ve never been on a team. I feel kind of like they’re not going to get the full experience and I kind of feel like we deserve the same chance and the same amount of stuff that every other school that we’re playing has and we’re not really prepared for it.”

Still, Ruble and Gonzalez both deemed leaders of this young team, are not letting what may seem like a disadvantage stop them from doing all they can to become a winning team.

“We are persistent enough to where it’s like okay we can do fine without it, but it would be nice to have the same advantage that everybody else has," Ruble said.

Gonzalez is more so determined on bringing home a state championship.

New coach, new changes

In his first year as head coach, Adam Johnson says he came to John Marshall determined to help give the girls’ team everything they need to be successful on and off the court.

“Changing the culture is the first thing,” he said.

The Naples, Florida native grew up playing sports and eventually went on to play collegiate football at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. Given his experience as a student-athlete, he says he knows firsthand how much support can make a difference to a young team. It’s why he immediately took to Facebook asking the Northeast Ohio community for help supporting his new team at John Marshall.

John Marshall High School Girls' Basketball Head Coach Adam Johnson talks to Junior, Adrianna Ruble and Senior, Adlih Gonzalez during team tryouts and conditioning session.

In a post earlier this month Johnson writes, “This message is to all that is connected to me directly or not: John Marshall High School is on the West side of Cleveland, OH is a public school and we need your help.” The post goes on asking for help with game day meals and “$2,000 that will cover our high school basketball season travel suits for the winter time with hoodies for the girls, funds towards having [an] inspirational speaker speak to the girls to build and help them grow.”

Johnson would announce on Facebook a few days later that game day meals are now covered thanks to community donations.

“I appreciate and love what he’s doing for us because we’ve really never had that, someone fighting for us,” said Gonzalez.

Still, Johnson tells News 5 he went ahead and spent about $1,700 of his personal money for travel suits in order to get them in time for the season.

“If you have a team you want them to look alike, you want them to be alike and he wants her to have the same identity as a whole,” he said. “I believe in having faith. I believe in these young ladies. I want them to believe in me.”

To donate to the team, contact: John Marshall Athletics at 216-838-6050 and indicate you want to make a donation.

You can also stay updated on the team and their season on their Instagram page @lady_lawyersgbb.

Where’s the money?

According to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), the city of Cleveland helps fund its high school sports teams. Michael Herstek, an HR Talent Management Partner with CMSD, sent the following statement:

“Each year the City of Cleveland via the CEAP (Comprehensive Extracurricular Activities Plan) fund provides a total of $10,000 for high School Athletics for Senate schools that have football programs and a total of $6,000. for Senate schools that provide athletics but not football.

The High School Athletic Directors collect funds at the gate for athletic events and home concessions. The AD and principal determine the breakdown of the budget as to equipment and uniforms needed each year for the programming. The Central office provides funding for all equipment and uniforms for all initial, or start-up, sports, but the schools sustain the costs once the sports are initiated.

The central office also covers 80% of all transportation unless the school schedules a game or contest more than 90 minutes away. In those cases, we split the cost with the school.”

As for coaches' pay, the approved differential amount for a Head Basketball Coach in the district for the 2020-2021 school year was $3,867. The amount was negotiated under the most recent agreement with the Cleveland Teacher’s Union. However, under the current 2020-2023 contract a committee was created to review salaries.

Herstek says, “the process is ongoing.”