When the Foothills Academy College Prep boys soccer team was told Monday their opponents wouldn't play them because of the two girls on their roster, the high schoolers took to the field without their female players and lost in overtime, the Arizona Republic reports. But when it happened again Friday, the team took a stand and refused to play without sisters Alyssa and Colette Hocking, and Mesa's Faith Christian School ended up forfeiting the game rather than play against the girls. "[The Foothills players] felt the girls earned the right to be on the team … and they won't play without them," the Foothills coach tells the Republic. Per the director of the Canyon Athletic Association, under which these teams play, the schools are so tiny that the rules state if there's no girls soccer team at a particular school, girls can play on the boys team.
"I know it appears to fly in the face of what everyone is wanting to promote today, and that is equality," says Dick Buckingham, the head of Faith Christian, adding the decision not to play Foothills was based "on a religious perspective that God created guys and girls differently," and that because of the "strength advantage" men have over women, it wouldn't be honorable for boys to take on girls in a soccer match. It was the girls' mom, Noelle Avey, who decided the girls should come out of Monday's game against Our Lady of Sorrows, because she didn't want her daughters' presence on the field to "hurt the boys"—but when the second team balked, "things changed." "This team has shown they respect female athletes and don't discriminate against them," she says. As for the girls, Alyssa says she's thrilled "the whole team supported us," while Colette notes they're "proud to be part of this team." (Read more high school sports stories.)