Reporting Lauren Leamanczyk
GOFFSTOWN, NH (CBS) – There is no doubt that on the ice, Shelby Herrington keeps up with the boys. But now it’s up to a judge if the junior at Bishop Brady High School will continue playing with them, or be forced to join the school’s brand new girls’ hockey team.
Shelby and her lawyers say that’s discrimination and they argue it will hurt her chances at a college scholarship or the even a shot at the Olympic team.
Jenna Rheault knows what Shelby’s going through. She also plays on a boys’ team and says playing with the boys does improve her skills.
“Girls’ hockey is a lot different than boys’ hockey and boys’ hockey is more competitive so she’ll get better,” Rheault says.
Several parents and coaches are siding with Shelby. Some other boys’ coaches even wrote letters of support to the judge.
“It would be a shame to take away an opportunity that a girl’s earned already with a team she’s been on for two years,” said Peter Madden who coaches a girls hockey team.
The NHIAA says they are following the rule book in requiring Shelby to play with the girls now that there is a team available at her school.
The NHIAA chairman tells WBZ that the decision is about more than Shelby, it is about promoting girls’ athletics. If all the top female players play with the boys, he worries, the girls’ teams will never develop in New Hampshire.
It’s a debate that is being echoed on the girls hockey team at Shelby’s school.
Some support her choice to play with the boys. “I think she should be able to play because she’s earned a spot since the freshman year,” said one of the girls.
“She’s hurting our team too because we need another strong player on the team,” argued another.
A judge will make his final decision by December 17th. In the meantime, Shelby will be allowed to play with the boys’ team.
Neither Shelby nor her father, Lee Herrington, would comment on their lawsuit. Their lawyer also declined an interview.