By Alex Welch
Should girls be allowed
to play football? One local private school in Locust Grove is
Maddy Baxter, a
12-year-old student at Strong Rock Christian School, was told
last week that she would not be permitted to play football again
Maddy Baxter walks off the
field after a game last season. She played one year with the
Patriots before being told she would not be allowed to
Maddy was a part of the
team last season as a sixth-grader, playing as a defensive
tackle. While she was already in the process of preparing for
another year, the school informed her that she wouldn’t be
allowed to be on the team going forward.
“Maddy’s coach from last
year called my husband and said he wasn’t able to get her on the
team. He tried his best, but they were not going to let her
play,” said her mother, Cassy Blythe.
She said she emailed
everyone at the school she could think of, and eventually
Patrick Stuart, the school’s CEO, scheduled a meeting with her.
“He said he didn’t
believe it was right for males and females to compete in any
sport,” said Blythe. Stuart said he wanted to alleviate “impure
thoughts” among the boys, according to Blythe.
Blythe said Stuart met
opposition from the coaching staff and athletic director at
Strong Rock Christian, but after he prayed about the issue, he
decided this was the right thing to do.
While she tried to change
Stuart’s mind, Blythe said he was set with his decision. “He
just kept saying no, it’s not going to happen. He wasn’t rude,
but he was very firm,” she said.
Maddy performed well in
her first year playing last season, according to Blythe. “She
did great. I was so proud of her,” said Blythe. “I was extremely
worried about having my daughter play football. When she did
start playing and I saw her on the field and I saw how she could
overpower these boys, the worry went away.”
Blythe wasn’t the only
one who believed her daughter fared well on the field, though.
“The team accepted her. The boys were constantly patting her on
the back. The coaches constantly told me how impressed they
were,” she said. “Never once did I hear anything negative.” She
said the parents around her all supported Maddy as well, and she
was complimented often for her work ethic.
Maddy was one of the
first to become a student when Strong Rock Christian opened,
Blythe said. “We picked the school because Strong Rock said they
were going to take good care of her. They said they were going
to do everything they could to help her grow,” said Blythe. If
they had known a decision like this would be made regarding the
separation of boys and girls, though, Blythe said they would
have decided to attend another school.
Upon hearing the news,
Maddy was caught off guard. “I just sat there in complete and
utter silence. I was in shock,” said Maddy. She said she heard
several reasons as to why she couldn’t play, including “men and
women are created equal but different.” The locker room
conversations were also said to be inappropriate for girls,
according to Maddy. She noted, though, that she changed in an
entirely different locker room all last season.
Maddy said she is already
training for next season, as she was looking forward to getting
back to football. “The coaches supported me. My teammates
supported me. It was really fun,” she said.
At this point, the family
is uncertain if it will continue with Strong Rock Christian.
“We’re open for all options right now. We’re not 100 percent
sure what we’re going to do,” said Maddy. Blythe said they are
considering finding another school that will let her play
Administrators at Strong
Rock Christian could not be reached for comment.
Blythe started a Facebook page to support
her daughter’s cause, and it was met with widespread support
across the nation. After creating it on Tuesday, June 18, the
“Let her play” page now has over 22,000 likes.