HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — After questions and controversy, members of a girls’ basketball team in Hoover now have trophies in hand.
The Lady Jags won the fifth-grade boys’ rec league championship last week, but after the game, they did not get a trophy. That’s left many people in the community questioning why.
In a statement, the city said because Lady Jags joined the league mid-season and asked to participate in the Hoover Rec League – the rules of the league state that they could not get a trophy for winning since they are an ‘elite’ team that had asked to join the league. The city says it is not because of gender.
The statement reads:
“Members of ‘elite’ teams are hand-selected based of their skill level. They do not go through the same talent evaluation as those who participate on regular league teams. Therefore, ‘elite’ teams willingly agree to compete at levels above their grade range to ensure fair competition for all youth athletes.”Statement from the City of Hoover
Even Coach Wes Russell, their coach, said he had understood the rules that they could not win a trophy for winning the championship.
He released a statement saying:
“Social media posts have negatively portrayed the rules and policies of the City of Hoover Parks and Recreation as somehow unfairly treating girls versus boys. 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 the boys’ tournament.”Lady Jags Coach Wes Russell
Russell thanked the city for recognizing the team and its successes in the basketball season tonight ahead of the city council meeting. This happened at a private ceremony at the request of the team.
The city said in its statement that at the same tournament, a boys ‘elite’ team also won a championship and was not named champions because they competed outside of their grade group.
The Hoover Parks and Recreation Department said it is reviewing all league policies to make sure they are fair moving forward.