Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More head cover stories

More stupidity by officials.

I am not going to get into a rant about this but I think they should have just allowed her to compete and dealt with it later. having said that I was a bit taken aback when she says I knew she was going to tell me I couldn't run. How did she know? Did this mean she went there knowing she was violating the rules?

The only ones who will come out of this okay will be the lawyers who will get involved.

High School Track Star Alleges Religious Discrimination

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- A DC track and field star says she's been the victim of religious discrimination. Officials at the Montgomery Invitational track meet told Juashaunna Kelly she had to remove her Muslim head covering if she wanted to compete. It was a roller coaster weekend for the 17 year old star from Roosevelt High School. On Friday, Gatorade named her DC Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. On Saturday, officials at the Montgomery Invitational left her weeping.

"I knew she was about to say I couldn't run," says Juashaunna. "So I started crying. And she told me to calm down and everything. And I was just standing there crying."Since her sophomore year at Roosevelt, Juashaunna has worn a custom made suit that covers her head and neck as required by her faith. But officials at the prestigious indoor track told her it violated the rules. "And I told her, I've been wearing it for three years, why can't I wear it now?""I said doing that would be almost like me sending her out there buck naked," says Roosevelt track coach Anthony Bowden. "I can't do that."

Track meet director Tom Rogers insists it had nothing to do with what Juashaunna was wearing on her head. He says lots of runners wear hejabs [hijabs]. One was even officiating at the meet. He says it has to do with what was under her uniform. Association rules require undergarments be one single solid color."It started off with the hood," says Juashaunna's mother Sarah. "He didn't say anything about an undergarment or shirt. He said the hood. The hood had to come off.

"The discussion got pretty heated. "You need to back off," Coach Bowden told an official. "'I don't want you in my face, cause you're spitting on me.' It got to the point where I just took my hand and put it in his face and pushed him back."

Juashaunna's convinced she missed a chance to shine for college scouts. There "was a lot of recruiters at this meet," she says. "I feel bad because I promised her something I wasn't able to deliver," says her coach.

The track meet is sponsored by Montgomery County Schools. Its director says a sanctioned meet has to follow the rules set up by the National Federation of State High School Associations.