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School says no
to girls playing football


By Alex Welch
Assistant Editor 

  Should girls be allowed to play football? One local private school in Locust Grove is saying no.

  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 in 2013.

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 compete.                               Special photo

  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 football.

  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.



©Henry County Times, Inc.