A group of fifth grade girls were denied a city championship they rightfully won after the team beat a fifth grade boys team, according to team parents. The girls team was told they could not continue to use Hoover recreation center for practice unless they joined the city youth recreational league and play against boys. They previously played in a girls’ league for three years representing Spain Park High School, and all girls went to school in the Hoover city school system.
“These girls have played together for 3 years for a competitive girl’s league representing Spain Park. All are 5th graders in the Hoover school system. Halfway through their season they were told they could not use the Hoover gyms for their practices unless they paid to play in the Hoover rec league,” wrote a parent, Jayme Mashayekh, on Facebook.
The team struggled playing against the boys early and was considered a “middle of the pack” team.
“Playing the boys was a challenge they rose to meet,” Mashayekh said to AL.com. “It made them better players and a better team.”
The girls turned their season around and fought their way to the championship game. There, they were told that they weren’t going to receive the trophy no matter the outcome before the game took place, according to Mashayekh.
Mashayekh wrote the following post on her Facebook page:
“They were told before the championship that they could play in it but if they won they wouldn’t be allowed to have the 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?!?! So sure enough these 5th grade girls played their hearts out, left it all on the floor and battled their male counterparts only to be told, ‘No, I’m sorry you don’t count.'”
She later put another post that the Hoover city league has reached out to make things right, but didn’t give any details on how they would do so.
Outrage From Parents
Hoover citizens also wrote under the post in support of the all-girls team.
“Shameful. Live in Hoover. Pay Hoover taxes. Can’t use facilities without joining their league but then as a victor, shunned. I assume you paid league dues to be in the rec league. Sounds about right for the Hoover Rec though,” one Facebook commenter wrote.
Other people wrote things like “horrendous”, “disgusting”, and “absolutely horrible” in support of the team. A city council spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice said this in the following statement to AL.com:
“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.”
The League Rules
The Hoover city recreational has two types of teams that represent their league: elite and rec. The elite teams are hand-picked talent by coaches and have played together for several years. The rec teams are kids regardless of talent, put in a random pool and assigned to a squad. The all-girls team wanted to avoid that fate and keep their squad together, so they registered in the league as an elite team.
“For many years, HPRD has allowed ‘elite’ teams based in Hoover to participate in tournaments it conducts. Those ‘elite’ teams are not sought out by HPRD, but rather they come to HPRD and ask to participate,” the city of Hoover said in a statement.
“If an ‘elite’ team participates in an HPRD youth tournament and makes it to the championship round, they are not eligible to receive any awards/trophies. Only regular recreation teams are eligible for awards/trophies. Coaches of the ‘elite’ teams are made aware of and agree to these rules at the time they request to participate.”
The boys team that were the de facto winner didn’t receive a trophy either. Hoover city officials stated that both teams will be honored in a ceremony on Monday evening.