Saturday, March 2, 2024

Hoover basketball trophy ‘not a decision based on gender,’ mother of player says

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The mother of one of the girls on the Hoover basketball team that was denied a trophy after beating a boys’ team in the championship game of a recreational league apologized for her social media post suggesting the decision was based on gender.

Jayme Mashayekh, whose Facebook post last week ignited controversy, attributed her initial stance to “lack of communication” and said most of the girls’ parents were unaware they were ineligible for the trophy because they were a competitive team in a recreational league, adding that one mother only became aware as her daughter made the winning free throw.

“I apologize this post has had the implications it has. I now know this was not a decision based on gender, but instead lack of communication. At the time I was frustrated and felt like the girls were being singled out. I’ve now learned based on Coach Wes Russell’s public statement that he was aware of this policy; however, most of the parents were not,” Mashayekh said.

“From Coach Wes’ message to the group last Thursday, ‘the optics of what happened did not look good. But the city is trying to make it right. Let’s allow them to make this right.’ I agree and hope that improvements can be made in communicating rules, eligibility and expectations better in the future,” Mashayekh concluded.

In a private ceremony on Monday, the girls’ team “received a trophy and commemorative coin” from Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato.

The girls, who according to Mashayekh’s initial post have been teammates for three years representing Spain Park in a competitive girls’ basketball league, were required to enter the Hoover fifth-grade boys’ rec league if they wanted to keep utilizing Hoover City Schools gyms for their practices.

Russell said the girls understood the requirements, which included not being eligible for the championship trophy if they won the league.

“The City of Hoover has allowed our team to utilize and practice in municipal gyms, just as they have done in my 12+ years of coaching in both the Hoover girls and boys leagues. Our team knew the rules of the Hoover Rec league prior to the tournament, and we still chose to have our team compete in this boys tournament,” he said in a statement Monday issued by the city.

In my 12+ years of coaching, boys and girls have always been given equal treatment.”

The coach suggested other parents of girls on the team did not share Mashayekh’s beliefs on the situation.

“While the optics of this story appear to paint the City of Hoover in a negative light, my personal experience and that of so many other Hoover families tell a different story,” he said. “The Hoover Parks and Rec Dept. has agreed to review the rules related to competitive teams playing in the rec league to clarify the rules and make them fair to all participants going forward.”

The city said its parks and recreation department “for many years” has allowed “elite” teams to participate in tournaments. The teams are not sought out by department, but come to ask to participate. Those teams are selected based on skill and not similar to regular league teams.

Because of this, according to the city, teams must willingly agree to compete above their grade range.

“If an “elite” team participates in an HPRD youth tournament, and makes it to the championship round, the rules state that they cannot receive a trophy as a result of that win,” the statement reads.

Coaches are also made aware of this. “Only the team that is grade-appropriate has ever been eligible to be recognized as the tournament champions,” the city stated.

This has applied to both boys and girls teams, the city stated.

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