High school student denied golf tournament win because she's a girl

By: Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Updated:

UXBRIDGE, Mass. - A high school student with a passion for golf shot the lowest round in the Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys’ golf tournament at Blissful Meadows, but didn’t get the trophy because she is a girl.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that Emily Nash was technically the winner of the tournament Tuesday, but runner-up Nico Ciolino was named the winner.

“It’s a real injustice that she wasn’t announced as the winner,” Robert Dufresne, a volunteer rules official with the Massachusetts Golf Association, told the publication. Dufrense worked the tournament which was held at an Uxbridge, Massachusetts, golf club.

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“I feel like I played on the same tees as the boys and I play with them all year so I feel like I should have gotten some sort of recognition,” Nash told WFXT.

According to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, “Girls playing on a fall boys’ team cannot be entered in the Boys Fall Individual Tournament. They can only play in the Boys Team Tournament. If qualified, they can play in the spring Girls Sectional and State Championships.”

The Worcester Telegram reported that  Kevin Riordan, the director of the tournament, said he told Nash and her coach about the rule. He said when Nash placed first, he checked the rule again with Ann Trytko, the MIAA assistant director.

“She was a little disappointed that she didn’t know going into the tournament that it wouldn’t count, she was really excited she won districts, that would have been great for her resume, for her team,” Nash’s father, Robert Nash, told WFXT.

When Ciolino was awarded the first-place trophy, he offered it to Nash

“He came over and said he didn't win the tournament, that I did,” she said. “It was really nice of him and respectful.”

Still, Nash declined the offer.

Riordan said he will purchase a first place trophy for Nash with his own money.

WFXT reported that MIAA issued the following statement on the situation:

“The MIAA and its member schools congratulate all golfers on their performance at the recent fall sectional team golf tournament. In particular, the skill of the female golfer from Lunenburg was on display as she represented her personal ability and effort on behalf of the Lunenburg High School Boys Golf Team. The MIAA is proud to have her and her teammates participate and represent the 230,000+ student-athletes in our schools.

“The MIAA Golf Committee, with a membership of school representatives from each district in the state, has worked over the years to establish and manage both a boys and girls golf tournament. In the case of golf, these tournaments exist in two different seasons. The boys team and individual tournament has taken place in the fall and the girls team and individual tournament has taken place in the spring. During a sectional tournament round of golf, a golfer’s score is submitted for both an individual and team competition at each location.

“To offer an opportunity for team play to all MIAA member school students, female golfers have been welcomed to participate on a boys team in the fall if their school did not sponsor a girls golf team in the spring. Approximately 26 female golfers participated in 2017 fall boys golf tournaments. This opportunity has been met positively by many studentathletes and school programs. Given this team opportunity during the fall tournament season, it has been clear to participants that female golfers playing in the fall boys team tournament are not participating in an individual capacity. The individual tournament opportunity for female golfers takes place during the spring season. As stated in the official MIAA 2017 Fall Golf format, “Girls playing on a fall boys team cannot be entered in the boys fall individual tournament. They can only play in the boys team tournament. If qualified, they can play in the spring Girls Sectional and State Championships.

"We congratulate Lunenburg’s female golfer on her performance and wish her continued success as she participates once again in the MIAA Girls Individual Golf Tournament in the spring of 2018.”

Boston 25 News contributed to this story.

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