Massachusetts superintendent calls for change after boy’s shot causes facial damage

November 6, 2023 / Athletic Administration
A Massachusetts superintendent is looking for changes within the sport of field hockey after a girl was hit in the mouth by a shot from a boy on an opposing team during a playoff match last week.

During the third quarter of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) field hockey playoffs, a player from Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School suffered significant facial and dental injuries, according to D-R superintendent Bill Runey, after taking a shot to the face by the boy player from Swampscott High School.

massachusettsSwampscott went on to advance to the next round of the MIAA playoffs, winning 2-0—both goals scored by the boy player.

A recent story from WBZ-4 News detailed the superintendent’s desire for change after the on-field incident.

Below is an excerpt from the WBZ-4 News story.

The MIAA allows boys to play on girls’ teams under the Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment when there is not an equivalent team for boys.

“However, seeing the horror in the eyes of our players and coaches upon greeting their bus [Thursday] night is evidence to me that there has to be a renewed approach by the MIAA to protect the safety of our athletes,” Runey said about the incident, which he said “dramatically magnifies the concerns of many about player safety.”

Swampscott High School athletic director Kelly Wolff defended the boy’s right to play.

“We are sorry to see any player get hurt and wish the Dighton-Rehoboth player a speedy recovery,” Wolff said, according to WPRI-TV. “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.”

The MIAA also issued a statement defending the rule.

“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 organization said, via WPRI.

Runey said the state should put conditions on what positions boys can play in certain sports.

“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,” Runey said. “I have been told that those restrictions were deemed illegal and no longer exist.”

The superintendent also suggested potential equipment changes could protect players from high shots, specifically “full-faced helmets.”

To read the full story from WBZ-4 News about the incident in Massachusetts, click here.