High schools in Cherokee County, North Carolina, are canceling girls’ volleyball matches against a team with a transgender player — a biological male — after a female player was severely injured during a recent game.
The injury occurred during a match in September when the transgendered Highlands High volleyball player spiked the ball and smashed a Hiwassee Dam High player in the forehead, leaving her with severe head injuries.
“The Hiwassee Dam player, a biological girl, suffered severe head and neck injuries, resulting in long-term concussion symptoms, including vision problems. The girl has still not yet been cleared to play again by her primary care physician or a neurologist,” the Education First Alliance reported.
After the injury, the Cherokee County Board of Education voted 5-1 to declare a “safety issue” and proceeded to cancel remaining games against Highlands High’s team after board member Joe Wood, who is also a coach, proclaimed that he had “never seen a hit like this before.”
“I’ll never put a child in a position to be seriously injured,” Wood said. “I think the odds (of injury) in these non-contact sports aren’t high. But in particular, in this meeting, a coach of 40 years said they’d never seen a hit like this. That was really what sealed the decision, at least on my part.”
Cherokee Vice Chair Jeff Martin added that the “board wasn’t searching out this kind of thing” and said the issue was brought to members’ attention as part of “safety concerns.”
Board member Jeff Tatham said the video of the incident played a significant role in the board’s overall decision to cancel games.
“The biggest thing for us, especially after seeing the video of the injury, we felt very strongly that it was a safety concern,” Tatham said. “I think most of the board members also felt like there’s a competitive advantage issue.”
Board member Arnold Mathews also told reporters that the decision is narrow and is not going to affect other athletic competitions in the school district.
“We reached out to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, who says, ‘It is the understanding of the NCHSAA that a local school system governs its athletic programs and at any time can determine for whatever reason that a school or team cannot play another school or team,’” Matthews stated.