Black softball player ‘humiliated’ after being forced to cut hair at game

By: Teddy Grant

A Black high school softball player in North Carolina was forced to cut her hair in the middle of a game to continue playing.   

Nicole Pyles, 16, told NBC’s TODAY that she had her hair in braids with beads on the end of an April 19 game when an umpire told her coach that he couldn’t see the number on the back of her jersey.   

The teen said she tucked her hair inside her shirt’s collar to fix the issue, but the umpire made another complaint. 

“I said something to the ump; I asked him … ‘You’ve seen me play before, so why is it an issue?’ And he said, ‘It’s a rule, so there’s not much I can do about it right now,'” the Hillside High School sophomore told TODAY.  

Pyles said that she has worn the beads in her hair at previous games and games for volleyball and was never told she had to remove them. She added that she felt that it was because her team was winning the game.   

“In my head at the time was, ‘Why me, why do I have to take my beads out just because the other team is losing? Why can’t we just play a normal softball game?'” she said. “I felt humiliated, just, why?”  

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association told TODAY that they followed the guidelines set by the National Federation of State High School Associations.   

“As a member of NFHS, the NCHSAA follows all NFHS playing rules and regulations, including Softball rule 3-2-5, which states that ‘Plastic visors, bandanas and hair-beads are prohibited,'” said Commissioner Que Tucker in the statement. “This is not a new rule and when the violation was noticed by an umpire, the proper determination of illegal equipment was verified supported by the NFHS rule.” 

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