Superintendent speaks out after male student sends female athlete to the hospital with ‘significant injuries’

A Massachusetts school superintendent is speaking out after a girl’s teeth were knocked out by a male field hockey player.

During a state tournament matchup this Thursday, a male member of Swampscott High School’s girls’ field hockey team took a shot that hit the face of a female player, causing “significant facial and dental injuries,” according to Bill Runey.

Runey is the superintendent of the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District, which is where the injury occurred.

Watch the shot being made below:

The male was allowed to play in the game because the “Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association allows males and females to participate in the other gender’s sports if it is not made available to their own — thus, a male is able to participate in field hockey, which is generally a sport for females,” as reported by Fox News.

That said, Runey responded to the horrific injury by penning a letter to the community expressing concerns about the MIAA’s rule and suggesting changes are needed.

“In speaking with a representative of the MIAA this morning, she shared that the MIAA handbook has a legal note (see their legal note) explaining how the Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment makes the participation of males on female teams legal. I understand that the Mass ERA legislation is voluminous; and therefore, is very difficult to modify in total,” he wrote.

“However, seeing the horror in the eyes of our players and coaches upon greeting their bus last night is evidence to me that there has to be a renewed approach by the MIAA to protect the safety of our athletes. In years past, there were provisions in girls’ volleyball that, although boys could participate, they could not play on the front line because their ability to spike the ball created a higher level of risk. I have been told that those restrictions were deemed illegal and no longer exist,” he continued.

“Athletics has come so far in the realm of safety, but the equipment and the training that our athletes are receiving in today’s day and age requires us to be more thoughtful about all of our rules and policies regarding safety. To be clear, I have the utmost respect for the abilities of female athletes. I am the father of three and all three were very successful in their high school athletic careers. My two daughters remain in the athletic realm today due, in large part, to their positive experience in high school athletics. We have a responsibility to preserve that positivity for all of our athletes today and in the future,”  he concluded.

The MIAA, in turn, responded by issuing a statement basically saying that concerns about girls being injured aren’t a good enough reason to change the rules.

“The court determined that a blanket rule prohibiting boys from playing on girls teams, where there was no equivalent boys team, violated the ERA,” the statement reads.

“We respect and understand the complexity and concerns that exist regarding student safety. However, student safety has not been a successful defense to excluding students of one gender from participating on teams of the opposite gender. The arguments generally fail due to the lack of correlation between injuries and mixed-gender teams,” it continues.

In response, the association was ratioed on Twitter.


Meanwhile, Swampscott athletic director Kelly Wolff issued an email to the Boston Herald calling what happened Thursday “an unfortunate injury” that came on a “legal play.”

“We are sorry to see any player get hurt and wish the Dighton-Rehoboth player a speedy recovery. The Swampscott player who took the shot is a 4-year varsity player and co-captain who, per MIAA rules, has the exact same right to participate as any player on any team,” she said.


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