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Teen Kicked off Volleyball Team for Getting Pregnant

By jeannesager |

volleyballWhen teen honor student Mackenzie McCollum got pregnant, she figured she’d work out the stress on the volleyball court. Then her school kicked her off the team.

Thanks to a mom who isn’t going to take the discrimination case lying down, McCollum’s Texas’ high school is under investigation for violating Title IX, which guarantees pregnant athletes protection under the law.

Investigated by ESPN’s Outside the Lines (tip of the hat to Feministing for alerting us here at Babble), the issue circles around the Arlington Heights High School assumption that pregnancy constitutes an injury. In order to stay on the team, McCollum had to produce a doctor’s note proving she could play.

When the doctor cleared her with the condition that she keep her heart rate relatively low, the school said no deal – even though she’s a setter on the volleyball team and the doctor said he thought she’d be fine. So he wrote a second note clearing her completely, and the school had to relent. But the coach docked her playing time anyway, which representatives of the Women’s Law Center note constitute retaliation.

Why is a school treating a pregnant teen like an invalid? Last we checked, the American Pregnancy Association and every other expert on pregnancy on the planet says exercise is the best thing for pregnant women. And if you want to go volleyball specific, let’s talk about Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh – playing at a much higher pressure level, she was pregnant when she captured a world tour gold medal.

Could this perhaps be a knock specifically on a teen girl for her choices? Read the comments at Outside the Lines, and they smack of chauvinism. And not surprisingly there’s little to be said for the boy who was part of this pregnancy equation (and is no longer involved, even as she graduates from high school this month). Even one commenter who makes mention of the boy, noting he’s twenty-three, acts as though that’s Mackenzie’s fault, rather than questioning what a twenty-three-year-old was doing having sex with a teenager.

Image: terren in virginia

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About jeannesager



Jeanne Sager is a freelance writer and photographer living in upstate New York with her husband and daughter, Jillian. She maintains a blog of her award-winning columns at

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31 thoughts on “Teen Kicked off Volleyball Team for Getting Pregnant

  1. PlumbLucky says:

    I know as a high schooler, the athlete code of conduct stated that pregnancy or causation of a pregnancy would eliminate our eligibility. No clue if it would have held up in court, but we all knew at the start of each season when we went over the athlete COC, and all signed them, and our parents signed them…
    The situation with this girl’s baby-daddy disgusts me. 23? WTF was he doing with a teenager? (Besides the obvious…)

  2. BlackOrchid says:

    Maybe if there were SOME negative repercussions remaining to getting pregnant in high school fewer girls would do it.

    I think the athletic department has every right to say she can no longer play. Maybe she should have considered beforehand that this might affect her future?

  3. Sabrina says:

    I’m not concerned about anything that has to do with how she GOT pregnant or WHO got her pregnant (although 50% of that falls on her own shoulders). I don’t think the school made the wrong choice. They could have treated her more *nicely* about it, but when it comes right down to it, if something were to happen to that girl or her baby while playing a school sport and she, God forbid, miscarried, the school with be knee deep in a lawsuit. It’s safer for her to sit out. That’s part of being pregnant, you can’t always do everything you would like to, even when you’re an adult.

  4. Sara says:

    Perhaps it was more about liability than anything else. She gets hurt because he coach pushes her to hard and BAM the coach and the school get sued.

  5. Trey says:

    Well said, Black Orchid. And, I agree about the school with liability. Its a darned if you do/don’t situation.

  6. Andrea says:

    Seems to me that there’s a pretty natural, obvious repercussion to having a baby in high school; namely, having a baby in high school. These kids (and their kids) need support and community, not exclusion and shame, or to be made an example of.

  7. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    I have a family member who is a teen mother. Fact is, she had better go spend the time that she is frittering away worrying about the volleyball team and go get a job to work as much as she can and set aside money to take care of herself and her child.

  8. jenny tries too hard says:

    She’s going to have a baby….and she’s worried about the freaking volleyball team? AND that’s what her mom is worried about, too?

    I had twins at 17, and I was just happy I made it through the day without vomiting on someone I liked, and mom was more or less satisfied if people were impressed that I graduated.

    Don’t get these people.

  9. Lisa says:

    If she were running track or swimming, I could see she has a case. But she’s playing volleyball and I could see how that could be dangerous during a pregnancy. Those balls are HARD!

  10. Allison says:

    There is no way a pregnant woman should be playing competitive volleyball. It involves diving on a hard floor and having a ball hit really hard and fast at you, setter or not. The doctor who ok’d her to play is a moron and probably just trying to avoid a law suit himself. How ridiculous!

  11. look at the facts says:

    One of the points of the story is to educate people on the fact that pregnant people CAN continue to participate in physical activity under a doctors supervision (hence the title of the written piece “pregnant athletes don’t have to sit out”). The doctor said she was able to play without risk to her child. Have any of you been in a high school lately. I would argue that it is more dangerous for her to walk through the hallways of the school, than to be on the volleyball court. Also, I would say that the coach was not all that concerned with the health of the unborn child, as he knew she was pregnant, and it wasn’t until a parent complained that he removed her from the team.

  12. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    If you’re arguing that this girl is in more danger in school hallways than on a volleyball court you are engaging in some massive intellectual deception. I play volleyball on an adult league. You don’t play the same position all the time, you rotate positions, so her position as a ball setter is not consistent. I don’t dive, that’s my choice, but I have been hit in the head and the body by the ball. I’ve been crashed into by fellow players. Again, I want to reiterate that little miss girl power had better figure out how she’s going to support herself and her child in the near future. She’s got bigger issues than volleyball.

  13. look at the facts says:

    Mistress_Scorpio- Actually, you do play the same position ALL the time. The setter may stand in another position as the ball is served, but then promptly moves to her setter position, meaning that her position of setter is consistent.
    Just because this student wants to continue playing volleyball, does not mean that she is not preparing herself for the future. The issue here isn’t volleyball. The issue here is the discrimination and violation of confidentiality she has faced within the volleyball setting.
    This is the bottom line (in my opinion), whether you think that she should be focusing on “more important things” than volleyball or not, and whether you think that she is taking a risk with the health of her unborn child or not, the LAW says that she is allowed to play without being discriminated against. The LAW says that her volleyball coach is not allowed to reveal confidential medical information about her, and her doctor says that she is medically able to play without injury of the unborn child. So for those reasons, any other argument is not valid (in my opinion).

  14. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    If she didn’t want her health information shared, she shouldn’t have shared it. I don’t recall reading that her pregnancy was announced by the coach. And no, none of this means she’s not preparing herself for the future, but it certainly not indicative that she IS. Being a mother means you make sacrifices for your child. Here’s one place she can begin.

  15. look at the facts says:

    This is from a story that ESPN did. And the coach did tell the rest of the team of her pregnancy. Being physically active during pregnancy is actually beneficial to the pregnancy, not a hindrance. Therefore, quitting the volleyball team is not a necessary sacrifice.

  16. jenny tries too hard says:

    The volleyball team is definitely not the only place she can get physical activity, and the school who carries the insurance risk ought to be the one who decides whether obviously pregnant atheletes are an acceptable risk. It is selfish of her to insist on staying on the team, not only because she’s putting her baby at risk, but because honestly she’s hampering her team. Do y’all seriously think she can play heavily pregnant as well as she could when they gave her a spot on the team? She should put on her big girl panties and let someone else with a little less on her plate have her spot. And her mom, apparently, needs to learn the same lesson.

  17. jeannesager says:

    Jenny, I’m sorry, but since when does high school athletics mean someone shouldn’t play because they’re not as good as the rest of the team? Isn’t the point to enjoy the game? This isn’t a professional team – it’s high school!

  18. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Okay, so I finally got a chance to watch the *whole* video. I have a few more objections. Clearly she is a star player. Yay her. And yes, her coach outed her. He should be reprimanded appropriately. I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the student’s “once the word got out, everyone was looking at me in the halls, judging me” statement of profound hurt, because something in her profile tells me she would have no problem passing the judgment if the bun was in another oven. That’s besides the point. Her doctor originally wrote a note saying that as long as there was NO contact in her sport, she would be fine. I’m interested in what convinced him to re-write the note with NO restrictions once the school informed her mom that contact is inherent in the sport.
    And just a word on the “my daughter was so heartbroken over losing her status on the volleyball team that she considered an abortion”… sorry but what a load. The mom is all concerned about the shame of being a pregnant teen, and how the school needs to nurture and support and make sure a pregnant athlete can succeed because holy mother of Bristol Palin, IT IS HER DAUGHTER. For me but not for thee much?

  19. jenny tries too hard says:

    jeanne, didn’t she compete for a spot on the team, and get it by playing better than other girls who tried out? This isn’t a club, or something like that, it’s a competitive sport. Now, there is no way she can continue her pregnancy and continue to be better than the girls she beat out for her spot on the team. I do feel badly for her, though, it’s a tough spot to be in and certainly her coach was out of line.

  20. jeff says:

    Where does it say that this girl was “big and pregnant”? She certainly doesn’t look as though she is lumbering around the court in the video to me. I say, as long as she can keep up, then let her play!

  21. Bucmell says:

    Bullsh_t~! Why is it okay for a pregnant teen to ‘showcase’ Pregnancy to other HS students??? Get her off the team, and into an alternative school. Pardon the interruption or infusion of some old school values for our kids who actually care more about academics, than sexuality. She may be Honor Roll student, and closer to 18 than 17, but there are plenty of freshmen girls who are 14 and Impressionable in that same HS. Hello….!!! There are already too many teen mothers pushing strollers to school. It’s still about education and NOT day care, isn’t it?

  22. College student says:

    Alternative school? What year is it? Do you think pregnancy is contagious in the water? What 14-year-old looks at an older pregnant teen and says, “yeah, that looks like fun, let me do that?”
    Pregnancy doesn’t get in the way of academics. You seem to want to punish this girl for her actions by taking away her education. How wrong, hateful, and disgusting. Shame on you.

  23. Student says:

    Okay, so, I know it wasn’t right for this girl to get pregnant in the first place. But, just because she made a poor decision doesn’t mean that something she really loves needs to be taken away from her. Sure, volleyball could be dangerous for the baby. But when you think about it, there are lots of other dangerous things that pregnant women do all the time. He inclination to stay in shape by playing volleyball shouldn’t be a penalty to her. She CAN play volleyball and worry about he future at the same time. It’s called multi-tasking. Bottom line, if the law says it’s okay, then it should be okay. That’s why they made it in the first place.

  24. Toya says:

    This is garbage she should be able to play because what if the baby is not as healthy as if would have been if she played volleyball then what happens…..this is some dumb nonsense. i swear america is so F’ed up man….she got a doctors note whats the problem are u medically certified..i dont think so.. if it was up 2 me she would play until she was put on bedrest or until the doc says she needs to stop…. but seriously the 23 yr old is kinda freaky but thats not the point……SHE NEEEEEEEDS TO PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Jessica and Rachel says:

    DUMB BITCH!- Rachel
    Is she really that selfish?? I am pregnant and not even I would risk losing my baby to a sport like volleyball. I love volleyball but my baby is way more important. Its not about her anymore, it is about her baby. I agree with the school and the coach all the way in not letting her play. -Jessica

  26. Maritza says:

    wtf, a girl got pregnant on my team, they didn’t do Sh*t

  27. LadyAgag says:

    Ok, you feminists need to get over yourselves. Are you serious? If someone were to call volleyball a “non-contact sport” or a sport that is not “physically demanding” in any other context, you’d flip out and say that it is just as tough as any male sport. However, when it benefits your argument, you will say that there is no danger in playing volleyball. Seriously, it’s not the 50′s, the discrimination is in your head! The author of this had better not be writing for any reputable source, and if so, they should be ashamed for printing it.
    P.S. Title IX is a JOKE!

  28. Morgan says:

    this girl dumb!!!!! If she thinks playing while pregnant is ok she needs to be slapped! Thats all i gots to say!

  29. Tim Wilkes says:

    There not knocking her at all, they treating her like a normal human being and saying what’s best for her. When your pregnant, your body needs plenty of rest as it prepares for hormonal, bodily and mental changes. The doctor said she can do it, just as long as she keeps her heart rate down. How she going to do that in vollwyball, you need to be on your toes, running about and keeping up the pace, i’ve played similar sports, and I tell you, my heart rate wasn’t slow. Pregnant women can do exercise, gentle excercise, like streches and swimming and some slow jogging. That’s what atheletes do they get pregnant, quit there heavy regieme for 9 months and get back into it afterwards. How can she pull off a run around in her condition, its a lot of weight to carry. She needs to grow up and stop throwing a tantrum over something thats entitley her fault in the first place. They probablt kicked her off, because she has another important adult responsbility. Its her fault she couldn’t wait, now she has to face the consequences like a grown up individual.

  30. my girlfriend really likes volleyball, we also enjoy playing volleyball each afternoon-,:

  31. Blair says:

    I’m undertaking a little something of the same interest and are taking note about this .Many thanks.

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