MIAA seeks to create separate girls and boys HS field hockey teams

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Everett High School field hockey players in 2019.


High school field hockey and how it’s conducted may be getting a noticeable makeover soon.

The MIAA Field Hockey Committee met virtually Friday and approved a tentative plan to separate boys and girls in high school field hockey competitions in Massachusetts.

The proposal, which aims to create a 7-on-7 boys’ field hockey program as a separate sport, looks to revamp field hockey competitiveness, fairness, and safety.

Since the late 1970s, following the court ruling in “Attorney General v. MIAA” field hockey in Massachusetts has been a coed sport with some schools having multiple boys on their roster.

Most notably, Somerset Berkeley, winners of the last two Division 1 state championships, has two boys on their roster. To some coaches, this is altering the sports overall fair play on the field.

King Phillip coach Lisa Cropper, who spoke on behalf of the Massachusetts Coalition to Preserve Girls Field Hockey, has been advocating for a systematic change to how field hockey is conducted in the state.

“We want to return the opportunities for fair play, and for safety,” Cropper said.

Cropper and the coalition noted multiple other factors in its proposal, including diminished playing times and the loss of leadership roles as girls get overlooked in favor of male athletes.

“If we are trying to provide girls full access to fair com- petition and educational opportunities — for instance, leadership roles — if the boy is stronger, the boy is faster, he is going to get that role,” said former Reading HS field hockey coach Mim Jarema to the Boston Globe. “Are we diminishing the access to fairness and opportunities? Is there any way to address that?”

The coalition is also brain- storming ideas to level the playing field should two separate sports not work, including limitations on what boys can do during competition.

Sherry Bryant, MIAA associate director, agreed with the coalition that now is the ideal time to look into system changes.

“We certainly know we have that passionate group in that coalition. We’ll make a plan; we’ll start some informal meetings. We’re advocating for passing the rule first, to at least get it on as a sanctioned sport,” said Bryant.

Should the MIAA approve the Field Hockey Committees proposal, it will go into effect during the 2021 season.

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