PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Many girls hockey teams in Rhode Island are a co-op involving multiple high schools, but according to a new petition, some student-athletes are being denied the chance to play under the state’s current rules.
Players and parents are calling on the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) to update the rule regarding cooperative teams. As it stands, the rule says co-ops should be made up of “no more than three member high schools” that are unable to field a full team on their own.
The petition, which has more than 1,700 signatures as of Thursday evening, says because of that rule, girls at some schools are forced to choose between joining the boys team or not playing at all.
“If the rule is amended or changed, more schools would be able to join co-ops, thus giving more athletes the opportunity to play the sport they love,” the post reads. “Currently, Massachusetts and Connecticut allow unlimited number of schools, and all female athletes are given equal opportunity to play.”
Rhode Island currently has eight co-op girls hockey teams comprised of players from 20 different high schools.
RIIL Executive Director Michael Lunney told 12 News the league is aware of the petition and the matter is being discussed.
“The Principals’ Committee on Athletics (PCOA), which is the governing body of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, and our member schools remain dedicated to providing as many participation opportunities for student-athletes as possible while maintaining the philosophy that high school sports are school-based educational athletic programs,” Lunney wrote.
“Procedures and guidelines regarding cooperative teams, which are included under Eligibility (Article 3) in the RIIL’s Rules and Regulations, were created and agreed upon by our member schools in the interest of saving existing programs and of establishing new ones, while remaining true to that mission,” he continued. “The PCOA discussed the league’s co-op guidelines at its regularly scheduled meeting earlier this week, and the RIIL will be having a broader discussion on the topic to solicit additional feedback from our member schools.”