Idaho town tells two girls they can't play football with the boys

GOODING, Idaho (AP) - A southern Idaho recreational football district is banning girls from play, even though the rules for the league the district belongs to specifies that girls should be included.

The Times-News reported that Gooding Recreation District Director Kent Seifert recently told youth football coach Smokey Legarreta to remove two girls from his team after Legarreta allowed them to join.

Legarreta registered his stepdaughter, Waycee Irish, and a friend of hers, Justice Prince, on his team. Seifert, who declined to comment on the ban, didn't find out that the girls were part of the team until after they had attended a practice.

Legarreta says when Seifert did find out, he told him to take the girls off the team before the Magic Valley Youth Football League jamboree held last weekend.

Legarreta refused to pull the girls before the jamboree, but told them they wouldn't be able to play after Saturday's last game.

"I told them before the final jamboree game on Saturday that this would their last game," Legerreta said. "I said, 'After this, you won't be able to play or practice, but you can come to practice and watch and hang out.'"

Gooding is the only district in the Magic Valley Youth Football League that bans girls, and league rules say both girls and boys are eligible. League Commissioner Mike Preece says he doesn't have enforcement power over member districts, but the league will review the situation next year.

"The league's position is certainly that all boys and girls can play," Preece said. "We have girls that play in our league every year."

Joleen Toone, the president of the Gooding Recreational District's board of directors, said the rule banning girls has been in place for at least 10 years.

"I don't think girls should be in tackle football," Toone said.

The district is in compliance with the federal anti-discrimination law called Title IX because it offers girls volleyball in November, Toone said. Boys are banned from the volleyball teams.

Waycee is a competitive player, said her mother, Shawnee Clements Legarreta.

"She is just kind of that girl. If you had seen her play soccer you would know she is very aggressive. She had a coach last year that requested her to be on her team because of the way she plays," Shawnee Clements Legarreta said.