A local Boys & Girls Club in Colorado is living up to its name, allowing a girl to play tackle football alongside the boys. But another coach didn't like the idea of boys hitting a girl -- and that allegedly led to him getting hit instead.
It all started when Nate Hernandez, the Boys & Girls coach, scheduled a game with Eaton Middle School. According to Eaton Coach Shawn Mills, he told Hernandez he had notified his players' parents that Boys & Girls had a female player. The parents objected, claiming it was against their religious beliefs to hit a girl.
But on Monday, when Hernandez showed up with his team, including 11-year-old Makayla Crespin, Mills refused to let his team take the field. Hernandez and Makayla, who is Hernandez's niece, appoached Mills.
ABC News reports that according to a police report of the incident, Hernandez said to Mills, "You tell her why your team doesn't want her to play." When Mills said he told Hernandez that this wasn't the "time or place" to discuss it and stated that the game would not be played if Crespin was on the field, Mills claimed Hernandez began to call him names and swear at him. Then Hernandez punched Mills, according to the report.
Mills declined to press charges against Hernandez, but Hernandez has been suspended from coaching duties, according to the Denver Post.
"I feel strongly about what I did," Hernandez said. "I think it's not right [I was suspended from games] but they have to do what they have to."
In an interview with ABC News' Denver affiliate 7News, Makayla said that she was upset by the fight and by Eaton's refusal to play. "It really hurt my feelings," said Makayla, "Because girls can do the same as boys."
Greg Kimbrough, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, told 7News that he hopes the incident doesn't discourage Makayla from playing in the future. "She needs to keep participating," he said, pointing out that other teams at the club have girls and that he's never run into this type of problem before.
"I applaud her and her willingness to step out onto the football field," said Kimbrough. "This event had less to do with Makayla playing football and more to do with adults handling themselves inappropriately."