A female student-athlete reportedly had two of her teeth knocked out during a high school field hockey game last week after a shot struck by an opposing male player deflected off a teammate’s stick and caused the facial injury.
According to reports, the incident happened during the first round of the field hockey state playoffs between two Massachusetts high schools — Dighton-Rehoboth and Swampscott — on Thursday.
***Warning: Some viewers may find the video below to be disturbing.***
Last night, while playing in a field hockey game, a Dighton Rehoboth High School female athlete was severely injured by a male playing on the opposing team. You can hear the girl’s harrowing screams after her teeth were knocked out.
When will this insanity end? When will the… pic.twitter.com/lul9OlCX25
— MA Family Institute (@MAFamilyInst) November 3, 2023
Dighton-Rehoboth Superintendent Bill Runey wrote a letter to families reported by local media, saying a male athlete on the Swampscott girls’ field hockey team took a shot that left “significant facial and dental injuries” to one of the team’s female athletes, which required hospitalization.
“When I stepped onto that bus last night when our girls got back to Regional Road, what I saw on their eyes was trauma,” Runey told a local NBC News channel.
Runey said the unidentified injured student, who had worn a mouthguard and headgear at the time of the incident, has since been released from the hospital.
Swampscott Public Schools Athletic Director Kelly Wolff told local media the player who took the shot is a “4-year varsity player and co-captain, who, per MIAA [Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association] rules, has the exact same right to participate as any player on any team.”
“In our MIAA Tournament field hockey game Thursday, a player on the visiting team suffered an unfortunate injury on a legal play after being struck by a shot that deflected off her teammate’s stick,” Wolfe said. “We are sorry to see any player get hurt and wish the Dighton-Rehoboth player a speedy recovery.”
Under section 43 of the MIAA’s 2023-2025 Handbook for Rules and Regulations Governing Athletics, students “shall not be excluded from participation on a gender-specific sports team that is consistent with the student’s bona fide gender identity.”
Officials from MIAA, which represents 383 member schools and all student-athletes, released a statement that said, in part, that it “strives to create a welcoming, safe and belonging atmosphere for all participants.”
“Massachusetts General Law was originally enacted to protect students from discrimination based on sex, and later expanded to protect students based on gender identification. As a result of this law, and consistent with the interpretive guidance offered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, athletic opportunities must be afforded to students in accordance with their identified gender, not necessarily their birth-assigned gender,” MIAA officials reportedly wrote.
The latest controversy over co-ed sports fueled Dighton-Rehoboth Superintendent Runey to address player safety.
“While I understand that the MIAA has guidelines in place for co-ed participation under section 43 of their handbook, this incident dramatically magnifies the concerns of many about player safety,” Runey wrote.
Runey told NBC that although he understands the law, he suggested the “hand strung” MIAA should “find a middle ground” to increase player safety.
“If anything, I think a change to the guidelines on protective headgear is certainly in order,” he said.