‘Humiliated’ black North Carolina high school student, 16, made to cut her hair during softball game after umpires claimed her beads stopped them from seeing her number
- Nicole Pyles from North Carolina, was forced to cut her hair during softball game
- Sophomore was told her hairstyle covered the number six on her jersey
- Nicole said she had worn box braids with clear beads in previous five games
- Stuffed hair into her sports bra but umpire said to take them out or she can’t play
- Team ‘snatched’ beads out, while some had to cut them out as they were tight
A high school student was forced to cut her hair during a softball game to continue playing.
Nicole Pyles, 16, from Durham, North Carolina, said an umpire told her coach during the second inning of the game on April 19 that her hairstyle covered the number six on her jersey.
The sophomore said she had worn the box braids with clear beads, which reached just passed her shoulder blades, on the end in five previous games without complaints.
She was playing at Hillside High School in Durham, against Jordan High School, according to Durham Public Schools.
In an interview with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Nicole said: ‘My team had wrapped the bottom of my hair where the beads were and at the top and stuffed into my sports bra so they couldn’t move.
Nicole Pyles, 16, from Durham, North Carolina, said an umpire told her coach during the second inning of the game on April 19 that her hairstyle covered the number six on her jersey
‘So I went out to play and that’s when the ump basically said to my coach either I take the beads out or I can’t play.
‘This is the second inning going on the third, and my beads are now a problem?’
She went on to explain how her team ‘snatched’ the beads out, while some had to cut them out because they were tight.
Nicole said: ‘I felt embarrassed and I most definitely felt disrespected. I just felt like the world was just staring at me because like why, why me, why anybody for that fact.’
Her father Julius Pyles added in the interview that his daughter and the whole team ‘should have been protected’.
He said: ‘Fix the policies for the Black children so they won’t be discriminated against.’
The father and daughter are demanding that ‘DPS and the NC High School Athletic Association must pass policies that ensure that hair discrimination will not happen again to another Black girl, whether on the softball field or in the classroom’.
She tucked the beads into her sports bra, but the umpire said she had to take them out or she couldn’t play. Nicole (centre) went on to explain how her team ‘snatched’ the beads out, while some had to cut them out because they were tight
They are also asking for apologies from Jordan High School Softball Coaches, the two umpires officiating the softball game and the NC High School Athletic Assosciation Supervisor of Officials, Mark Drelbelbis.
In a statement posted on their Facebook page, Durham Public Schools said: ‘As reflected in our school board’s unanimous resolution in support of the CROWN Act, Durham Public Schools supports our students’ right to free expression and opposes unreasonable and biased restrictions on Black women’s hairstyles.
‘On April 19 during a softball game against Jordan High, a Hillside High student-athlete was forced by a game official to choose to remove beads from her hair in accordance with National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules or not continue to participate in the contest. NFHS rules govern athletic competition; DPS board policies do not prohibit beads in hair.
‘In its investigation of the incident, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has since found that the incident began when the base umpire noticed the hair beads when the runner got to third base.
‘There was no involvement by any Jordan High staff member bringing the violation to the game officials’ attention.’
It also said that they believe the blanket ban on hair beads is ‘culturally biased and problematic’, adding that they support Nicole and believe the rule should be amended.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association defended the action taken by the umpire, citing softball rule 3-2-5 which states ‘plastic visors, bandannas and hair beads are prohibited’.