Maddy Paige, 12, wants to play football with her classmates for the Strong Rock Christian School in Georgia. However, she was denied the opportunity after the school CEO decided that Paige's presence could cause "impure thoughts and urges" among the male players.
"I was put as defensive tackle – first string," Paige told ABC News. "The coaches were really proud and my teammates – you know – pat on the back every time."
It was a dream come true for the young girl who made her first sack in the fifth game.
"All the parents in the stands thought it was one of their boys," Paige said. "But when I stood up and they looked at their roster, they saw it was me. I got amazing whoops and hollers."
That dream was short-lived, though, because Paige was soon taken off the team due to school policy.
"The coaches told me I did really well and that my teammates supported me, and then all of a sudden, that they were taking that away from me. It really is just sort of like taking a dream and throwing it in the trash," she explained.
School CEO Patrick Stuart "told me students are coming of age and the boys will have impure thoughts and urges and they have the locker room talk and it's not appropriate for girls to hear. Then he said he prayed about it and he really feels that there's not supposed to be mixing of the genders," Paige's mom, Cassy Blythe, told USA Today. "They need to be kept separate."
"What they've done here is they've taken Maddy, let her have that cake, then taken away and smashed it," Blythe told ABC. "What we want her to learn is that her hard work and dedication pays off. In this case, her hard work and dedication got her kicked off a football team and that makes her feel like she's less worthy of a person."
Paige's parents are appealing the school's policy and hope that she will be allowed to join the team next year. They have even built a Facebook page encouraging change.
"The Strong Rock Christian School leadership and administration fully stand behind the school's policy," a statement said. "We believe this policy promotes a safe and fair environment for athletic competition and is in the best interest of all Strong Rock students and families. Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our school."
"It's really sad knowing I won't be able to have as much fun as I did last year," Paige told USA Today.