Gooding Rec reverses rule, lets girls play tackle football

Credit: Shawnee Clements Legarreta

Waycee Irish (#12), with other female teammate, Justice Prince (#32)

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by KTVB.COM & Associated Press

KTVB.COM

Posted on September 12, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Updated Thursday, Sep 12 at 9:48 AM

GOODING, Idaho -- The Gooding Recreation District unanimously voted Wednesday evening to allow girls to play fifth and sixth grade tackle football.

The league had originally banned girls from playing with boys-only teams.

"No one has ever said anything about girls not playing until this incident this week," said Joleen Toone, Gooding Recreation District President.

At Wednesday's meeting in Gooding's ISDB Round Building the board decided to reverse the rule and let girls play.

"I move, starting as of today, that girls can participate on the fifth and sixth grade tackle football team," said Toone.

That means two girls who had originally petitioned the district to play, will now be allowed once they submit a registration form, undergo a physical, and pay $25.

THE STORY BEHIND THE BAN

The rules for the Magic Valley Youth Football League say girls can play, so Coach Smokey Legarreta let 11-year-old Waycee Irish and 10-year old Justice Prince sign up. Other teams in the Magic Valley also have girls on the roster.

However, the Gooding Recreation District, which runs the team, had a rule: no girls in fifth and sixth grade tackle football.

Gooding Recreation District Director Kent Seifert had told youth football coach Smokey Legarreta to remove two girls from his team after Legarreta allowed them to join despite the local ban. Seifert declined to comment on the ban.

The two girls said they want to be able to participate.

One of the girls, Waycee, is Legarreta's stepdaughter, and he said both cried when he told them they couldn't play on the fifth-grade team anymore.

"The boys on our team were upset; we were upset. I said that it was ridiculous," Waycee toold KTVB. "Why have a rule like that? We're the only district that has that kind of rule. I was just mad because I was so excited to play football and then they pretty much just broke my dreams."

Up until Wednesday's decision, Gooding was the only team in the Magic Valley Youth Football League that banned girls. League Commissioner Mike Preece said he didn't have enforcement power when the ban was enacted, but that the league was looking to review the situation in 2014.

The league will no longer wait to review the situation, and their ruling from Wednesday afternoon's meeting will stand.

After finding out the girls would be allowed to play, Waycee and Justice said they were elated, and said their teammates will be glad too.

"They're going to be excited and happy that we actually get to play and be a part of it all," said Justice. "We started it and we want to end it."

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