UPDATE (3/3): Narbonne High girls basketball coach Victoria Sanders says the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has ruled that the team can play this weekend following an appeal hearing, according to reports.
HARBOR CITY (CBSLA.com) — A girls high school basketball team in Harbor City faces disappointment after working all season to get into the playoffs, only to be told they’ve been disqualified because of their uniforms.
The Gauchos of Narbonne High were informed that they had been banned from the postseason after the team changed the color of the text on their jerseys from the school’s colors of green-and-white, to pink-and-white for breast cancer awareness.
“To be stripped of our rights because we believe in something is totally just devastating,” Narbonne senior Latisha Smith said. “Breast cancer awareness and power. This is important for women to unify together, because it’s all over the place.”
The team played their quarter-final game in February, wearing the same jersey, featuring pink letters and numbers, and were never issued a warning that it was against the league’s rules.
Wearing the jerseys again in their victorious semi-final, the team found out about their disqualification on Monday.
Now, the team they beat is playing in the championship instead.
“I am shocked and devastated and sad, because we worked so hard to get here,” Smith said. “This means a lot to us, and saving girls’ lives, literally.”
While the team now understands that changing the colors of the jerseys was against the league’s rules, they maintain that they had no previous knowledge, and that the punishment is too harsh.
Narbonne High School’s principal, Gerald Kobata, issued a statement, addressing the punishment.
“This is a huge disappointment for the girls basketball team, a team that worked so hard to achieve success on the court and in the classroom. I feel badly for the students, especially the seniors, their families and the Narbonne community.”
The CIF league has not commented on the issue, and has not returned calls.