New Castle News

Lincoln

September 28, 2012

Ellwood girl wins fight to join football team

NEW CASTLE — Ellwood City High’s football team will have a new member when it travels to Riverside tonight, and it’s a girl.

Ashley Nicole Lytle, a junior, has joined the Wolverines as a placekicker, according to a press release from the Ellwood law firm of Bellissimo & Peirce.

She reportedly is the district’s first female football player.

Her accomplishment, though, apparently was not without a challenge of the district’s gender-related policy.

Lytle tried out for the team Sept. 19, and was invited by the coaches to become a member of the squad, the law firm said.

However, when Lytle submitted her eligibility documents to the administration the next day, the papers “were rejected on the grounds that she was a female and therefore ineligible to participate,” the law firm said.

Robert Lytle, Nicole’s father, addressed the school board Sept. 21 and was told that school district policy prohibited Nicole from participating in varsity football because of her gender, the law firm said.

The Lytles then retained Bellissimo and Peirce to pursue the matter further.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Ellwood Superintendent Frank Aloi, attorney Robert N. Peirce III called Nicole’s disqualification “unlawful and unconstitutional,” and a violation of equal rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The letter demanded that the district allow Nicole’s participation by 7 a.m. Wednesday or face a complaint that the firm would file in U.S. District Court.

The firm said it also would seek a preliminary injunction that would allow Nicole to join the team in the absence of a change of heart by the district.

According to the news release, the district relented the same day, and Nicole was practicing with the team Wednesday.

“We are extremely impressed with Ms. Lytle’s strength and courage to not just be Ellwood City’s first female football player, but to kick down a gender barrier that has no place in our society,” the firm said in a statement.

Ellwood will play at 7 p.m. today at Riverside High.

Aloi, contacted at the school this morning, said the district’s policy, approved within the past couple of years, states males wouldn’t play female sports and vice versa.

“The basic reason was not to deprive the girls,” he explained. “We don’t have that many sports. But if the boys would play a girl sport, it might deprive some girls. We also were concerned about the girls playing contact sports. That was the rationale for the policy.”

Thus, when Lytle approached the adminstration about wanting to play football, she was informed of the policy. In the meantime, she and her family secured legal counsel, Aloi said.

“They were going to file a petition for an injunction. I contacted the board members, we talked about it, and everyone agreed that if the parents were in agreement and the coach did want her to play — he felt she could kick the extra points, that it would be OK.”

The board consensus to let Lytle play was formed around mid-week by phone, Aloi said, but as of right now, her participation on the team is being allowed as an exception, not a policy change.

“The policy is still in place. Only the board can change policy.”

The matter will be further discussed at the board’s next regular meeting, which is Oct. 11,  he said.

Aloi, himself, said he sees Lytle as having a right to play if she and her parents are good with it.

He does not foresee any problems with her getting along with the rest of the team, he said. “We basically have good kids.”

An attempt to reach head football coach Don Phillips before deadline this morning was unsuccessful.

(Related Story: Wilmington soccer star Kyler Lum has become the first female to play football for the Greyhounds. CLICK HERE.)

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Lincoln
  • money.jpg Districts awarded Safe Schools grants

    The Shenango and Ellwood City school districts have been awarded Safe Schools Initiative Targeted grants from the state. Each district will receive $25,000, according to state Sen. Elder Vogel.

    February 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police.jpg Child dragged by school bus

    A child suffered minor injuries when her backpack was caught in a school bus door Thursday. Police said the 8-year-old girl was dragged by the bus in the Perry Township incident.

    January 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • wiz12.JPG Photos, Video, Story: Lincoln High to present ‘Wizard of Oz’

    Ellwood City Lincoln High School will take you “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with its annual “spring musical in the fall.” The production of “The Wizard of Oz” runs tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday for a total of four performances in the high school auditorium.

    November 14, 2013 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • school.jpg New school grading system unveiled Friday

    The Pennsylvania Department of Education is rolling out its revamped system of grading schools Friday. One thing will be clear immediately: The state will be using two grading systems — one for schools with lots of poor students and another for every other school in the Commonwealth.

    October 4, 2013 1 Photo

  • Ellwood_Queen.tiff Homecoming 2013: Check out our video from Ellwood!

    It's that time of year again when the hard-hitting action of Friday night football gives way to the elegance and pageantry of homecoming. Every Wednesday, look inside for special photo galleries featuring all attendants on this year's courts. This week: Ellwood City!
     

    October 2, 2013 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Ellwood OKs budget with no tax hike

    The Ellwood City school board adopted the district’s 2013-14 budget with no increase in taxes. The budget totals $26,512,279. Property taxes are set at 15.81 mills.

    June 16, 2013

  • Kolodziej.jpg Tim Kolodziej: For the Class of 2013, there’s no looking back — promise?

    Congratulations, Class of 2013! You made it. Your last history lesson is history. Your last final — final. The unsure children who once needed help to climb the school bus steps will now stride confidently across the stage to receive their diplomas.

    June 6, 2013 1 Photo

  • Law.jpg Law Day essay winners announced

    Matthew Barnes and Hannah Branscome are the winners of the Lawrence County Law Day Essay Contest. Each received a $1,500 scholarship check.

    May 7, 2013 1 Photo

  • ecprom11.jpg Photo Gallery: Check out our images from the Lincoln High prom!

    The pomp. The pageantry. The pairs. The pictures. Yes, it’s prom season once again in Lawrence County and the New Castle News is on hand to document all the fun and excitement. We hope you enjoy our photo galleries! Today, Lincoln High.

    May 6, 2013 1 Photo 2 Slideshows

  • McCowin.jpg Athlete of the Week: Meet Angela McCowin of Ellwood City

    What happens when you’ve beaten everybody else? You look for ways to beat yourself. As the WPIAL track and field season progressed for Ellwood City Lincoln High, it was clear that Angela McCowin was running a race of her own in Section 1-AA.

    May 1, 2013 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

The driver of the car that killed Shenango Township police officer Jerry McCarthy has been sentenced to five to 10 years in prison. You OK with the sentence?

Yes
No. Not long enough.
No. Too long.
Not sure
     View Results