Co-ed volleyball team asked to bench boys or forfeit tournament

JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) A Magic Valley club volleyball team is disappointed after a recent tournament in Utah. Not because of the fact they lost two games, but were told they couldn't continue playing because of the older boys on the team.

Omar Gonzalez and Santiago Torres love to play volleyball. Omar's cousin and teammate got him interested in the game.

"I'd say they are great assets to our team, they cover the back row really well," explained Nykawry Augusto, 14.

Gonzalez said, "my mom used to play volleyball and she pretty much introduced me to the game.

Earlier this month, the Twin Falls Elite Volleyball team traveled down to Farmington, Utah for a tournament.

"As soon as I stepped into that tournament, I felt unwelcomed and stared at because I was a boy," added Torres.

Robyn Dayley, Twin Falls Elite Volleyball director explained, "our thing is to get these kids recruited and off to college and both of those boys are good enough."

But after losing both of their pod games, they were given the option of forfeiting or playing with the girls they had for the remainder of the event.

TFE coach Heather Webb added, "as soon as they knew there was a stir at all, the boys knew it was probably about them." "They came to me and were very upset. I had to tell my team the boys would be benched or we would forfeit and leave, the girls stood together and wanted to leave, to be there for the boys."

Dayley said, "as long as we were just playing and minding our own business, nobody had a problem with it, we could have stayed at the tournament, but they were all for it, except for one team."

George Miles, the director of this tournament in Farmington said it's an issue of age. "We do not allow boys to play with our girls teams above the age of 14. So 14 and under boys may play on the girls team. Apparently that policy is different in Idaho and they allow boys to play on their older teams."

Miles also said, "the referee allowed them to play the first couple of games, then the coach from another team was playing them raised the issue, they called me to clarify because apparently the ref did not understand our rules."

Right now in Idaho boys aren't allowed to play volleyball for their respective high school teams, yet girls can play football or wrestle, typically male dominated sports. This can be found under rule 11–2-1 of the Idaho High School Activities Association,where if the school sponsors a single team of a sport, the girls are allowed to play the boys teams, but the boys are not allowed to play on the girls teams.

Torres exclaimed, "it made me feel quite disappointed in the world because I can't play a sport due to my gender, but at my school girls are allowed to play football. And they're welcomed like nothing.

"If you love a sport, you should be able to play it," added Gonzalez.

For now, the boys will continue to compete for Twin Falls Elite, wherever they're allowed to play.

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