Girl goalie challenged on gender

October 19, 1990|By M.C. Moewe | M.C. Moewe,Fort Worth Star-Telegram

DENTON,TEXAS — DENTON, Texas -- Natasha Dennis, 10, played extremely well as the star goalie on her undefeated, under-12 girls league soccer team. So well that some parents of opposing players demanded a halftime gender check to prove she isn't a boy.

The demand and accompanying insults resulted in the suspensions of one assistant coach and four parents, including Natasha's mother, Linda Dennis.

The two fathers accused of asking for the gender check were suspended from attending league soccer games, the team sponsor was suspended for one year, and Randy Hill, the assistant coach, was suspended for the rest of the fall season.

Natasha's mother, Linda Dennis, and another mother, Chris Farr, whohad joined in the argument, also were suspended for two games, according to Ross Stewart, youth commissioner for the North Texas State Soccer Association, because "they should not have crossed the field."

The furor began during a Sept. 29 game between the Blaze -- Natasha's team from Lewisville -- and Solhers, a Denton team.

"Two fathers from the other team went on to the field during halftime because they wanted proof [that Natasha was a girl]," Linda Dennis said.

The Blaze coach offered the men the team roster and birth certificates for each player, but they weren't satisfied, said Ronnie Dennis, Natasha's father and Blaze assistant coach.

"They expected her to go into the ladies' restroom and take her clothes off in front of some stranger," Linda Dennis said.

"When she told me they asked for a panty check, I was appalled," said Stewart. "I've been working in youth programs for 20 years, and this has never happened. You think you've heard them all but something new always pops up."

Natasha Dennis, a 4-foot-5-inch fourth-grader with short brown hair, admits to being boyish. "I hate dresses," she said.

Still, Natasha,who has changed her hairstyle ,said she did not appreciate the men's accusations.

"I think they should go somewhere and check and see if they have anything between their ears," she said.

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