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Female football player, mother file lawsuit

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GINA R. HEINE
August 7, 2008
— A former football player at Evansville High School and her mother have filed a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination by coaches and staff.

Ivyanne Elborough broke her clavicle as a freshman member of the football team last year. The lawsuit alleges Elborough was injured because she was told to practice without safety equipment, even though the rest of the team was wearing gear during blocking drills.


The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Elborough and her mother, Deborah St. Aubin-Elborough, in U.S. District Court in Madison asks for compensation for pain, suffering, mental and emotional distress and expenses but doesn’t specify an amount.


Evansville School District Administrator Heidi Carvin said school officials and the district’s insurance company investigated the claims last fall and said they don’t believe the claims are true.


“We don’t believe it’s a valid claim that will prevail,” she said.


She declined further comment because of the pending litigation.


The family filed a notice of claim with the district last fall seeking $50,000 for pain, suffering, mental and emotional distress and expenses after her injuries.


The claim made the same allegations as the federal lawsuit—that head coach Ron Grovesteen discriminated against Elborough because she was female.


Allegations in the lawsuit include:


-- Grovesteen twice made Elborough cut her hair very short, claiming safety reasons, even though boys on the team were allowed to keep longer hairstyles.


-- Practice schedules were only posted and snacks were only served in the boys locker room, prohibiting Elborough from accessing the schedule and participating in the team snack time.


-- Grovesteen refused to unlock the girls locker room, leaving Elborough to find a custodian every day. Without easy access to the schedule or locker room, Elborough sometimes was late for practice and forced to do push-ups as punishment.


-- Elborough suffered a broken clavicle Aug. 30, 2007, after participating in drills without safety gear because she did not have access to her gear in the locked locker room.


“Grovesteen was malicious and willful in failing to prevent injury to plaintiff Elborough because he wanted to show that girls were not tough enough to play football, and because he wanted to deter plaintiff Elborough and future female students from participating on the football team,” the suit alleges.


Material from the Associated Press was used in this article.
Click here to read a copy of the complaint.

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