After coming in first place in a state divisional golf tournament, 16-year-old Emily Nash has been barred from receiving her trophy or advancing to the state tournament because she is a girl.
There is no girls golf team at Nash’s high school in Lunenburg, Mass., so she plays on the boys team. After shooting a first-place 75 in the Central Mass Division 3 Boys’ Golf Tournament this week, she learned that she would receive neither the title nor the trophy and would not be allowed to proceed to the state tournament, because of a rule stating that she shouldn’t have been allowed to compete in the first place.
“Girls playing on a fall boys team cannot be entered in the Boys Fall Individual Tournament,” the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rules read. Girls are allowed to play on boys teams—they’re just not allowed to compete in the boys individual tournament and are instead supposed to wait until the girls tournament is held in the spring. So while a girl on a boys squad can play in the boys team state tournament, she cannot play in the boys individual state tournament under any circumstances.
Nash told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that she was informed of the rule right before she teed off. (She plays from the same tees as her male competitors.) She said she was told that she could only move on to the state tournament if her team qualified and would not be able to play in the individual state tournament, no matter what. But she said she didn’t realize this meant that she would be denied the title and trophy for the individual divisional tournament if she won.
“I was definitely disappointed, but I understand that there are rules in place,” she told the Telegram & Gazette.
The boy who came in second place—four strokes behind her—offered to give her the first-place trophy that he received.