A Maine high school is making national headlines after becoming the first school in the nation to provide sportshijabs for Muslim student athletes, Yahoo Style reports. Deering High School, in Portland, ME, has many student athletes who wear hijabs, or headscarves often worn by Muslim-practicing women for religious purposes. Unfortunately, these head coverings are often not conducive to extreme physical activity: As one student lacrosse player explained, “With a regular hijab it was really hard and I was always adjusting it. I’m a goalie, so if I don’t watch the ball for a second, that’s a decision that could lead to the other team scoring on us.”
After learning about asiya, a company based out of the Midwest that creates sports-friendly hijabs —headscarves made out of elasticized, moisture-wicking fabric for comfort and modesty — Deering High School athletic director Melanie Craig decided to try and buy them for her student athletes. She enlisted the help of two non-Muslim student athletes, Liva Piece and Anaise Manikunda, who set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy the headscarves.
Craig told Yahoo Style, “As an athletic administrator, for every one of my student athletes I’m thinking about what’s the most current, what’s the best equipment, what are the advances in uniforms or softball bats, or whatever. To me, [the sports hijabs] were a no-brainer.”
The fundraiser ended up raising $800, which was enough to buy headscarves for every Muslim student athlete at the school. In doing so, Deering High School officially became the first in the nation to provide optional head coverings for student athletes — students at other schools have to provide their own headscarves, which, understandably, can be somewhat ostracizing (MuslimGirl founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh once called her experience as a hijab-wearing student athlete “alientat[ing],” and admitted she often felt “painfully out of place”).
Though Craig wasn’t surprised to hear Deering was among the first schools to offer optional headscarves for Muslim student athletes, she says she never expected to be the very first. “We kind of figured we’d be the first in the state of Maine, maybe even New England [to provide sports hijabs],” she said. “We had absolutely no idea [we were the first in the country]. We were blown away.”
Shoutout to the students of Deering High for making it easier for everyone to play sports. Here’s hoping other schools quickly follow suit.
Credit Yahoo Style Report