A fifth-grade girls’ basketball team is speaking out after they were denied their rightfully-earned championship trophy after being forced to join a boys’ league.
Spain Park girls’ team from Hoover, AL. were reportedly told at the beginning of the season that they would not be able to train at the local gym unless they joined the boys’ league.
The team did as they were instructed, joined the boys’ league, and ended up winning the entire season. However, officials denied the girls their championship trophy.
Instead, it was given to the boys who came in second place. Yup, the ones that the girls beat.
Jayme Mashayekh — the mother of one of the players — posted on Facebook about her frustrations with the situation.
“So proud of Rylie and her basketball team. It was a hard lesson they learned tonight. They won the 5th grade boys rec league championship but were not given the trophy,” she wrote.
“They were told to stay together as a team they had to play up a level in competition and play the 5th grade boys. The girls were middle of the pack throughout the season losing several close games by 1 point,” Mashayekh continued.
She then explained that the girls’ team rose to the challenge, even making it to the championship game. However, before the game, the team was told even if they won they would not receive the championship trophy.
“Excuse me? What? What did they do to get disqualified? Did they not pay their dues? Did they not play up a level in competition? Oh, it’s because they’re GIRLS?!?!” she wrote.
So to recap: the girls didn’t even ask to be a part of the boys’ league but were forced to because it was the only way the local rec center would allow them practice space. Then — because they’re badasses — the girls go on to win the entire boys’ league, and then are denied the championship trophy because they’re girls.
What kind of lesson is this to teach young kids? What kind of precedent does this set for young men who see girls work hard, achieve greatness, do better than them and yet — men still come up on top.
One Facebook comment on Mashayekh’s post came from a man who claims to have coached both boy and girl spots leagues in Hoover. The man — Jason Jordan — wrote that it’s just the City of Hoover’s “policy.”
“I’ve coached both boys and girls in Hoover for years and can assure everybody that they don’t discriminate against girls,” he wrote. “This policy has been in place for years.”
“Since Hoover has limited gym space and high demand for practice facilities it makes it extremely difficult to accommodate everyone. Hoovers’ policy has always been that if you want to use a Hoover gym … then you must participate in the rec league.”
Most coaches want to keep their OTM (Over The Mountain) team together and play them in the rec league. Since this would be an unfair advantage because most of the OTM teams are comprised of the best players, they are required to play “up” by two grade levels,” he continued.
“In this case, the girls are in 5th grade and there is no 7th grade girls rec league so they had to play against the 5th grade boys. In the past and I’m sure here too, the league tells the coaches well in advance that you can sit out the tournament or you can play but you will not get a trophy. In the 15 plus years I have coached, I’ve never seen a team win it all playing up, so congratulations to these girls and the coaches for winning the championship. Trophy or no trophy, they are the champions.”
By this logic, in order for the girls to get an actual trophy, they would have had to play up two grade levels (an option that didn’t actually exist). So, basically, they either play and don’t get a trophy or don’t play and don’t get a trophy. Seems like a fun rec league!
Mashayekh’s post also caught the attention of Hoover city officials and the Hoover Rec Center.
In an update to her Facebook post, Mashayekh later revealed that “The City of Hoover and the Hoover Rec Center have reached out to make things right for the girls.”
She did not reveal how they planned to “make things right,” but did thank the local community and beyond for helping give this frustrating story the attention it deserved.
“Thank you for all your support and hopefully this will be a step in the right direction for more/better access to facilities and opportunities for our females athletes,” she concluded.
Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice reached out to Alabama.com with an official statement about incident.
“On Wednesday, March 1st, 2023, the City of Hoover and the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board became aware of concerns about a recent youth basketball tournament. We are currently working to provide proper recognition to all the teams that were successful in that tournament. Also, we are reviewing the full extent of what occurred to ensure all future programs are handled appropriately,” he wrote.
One user put it perfectly when commenting on Mashayekh’s posts, “‘Making things right’ had better mean that they get the trophy and anything else due,” they wrote.