WASECA, Minn. — The Minnesota State High School League is not allowing Waseca High school hockey players to wear game jerseys that would honor a recovering police officer who was wounded in the line of duty.
The jerseys were for the support of Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson.
He was shot in the head and "gravely injured" while responding to a 911 call on Jan. 6 about a suspicious person in the back yard of a house.
On Thursday, the Waseca team tweeted that the MSHSL told players the uniforms violate its policy.
Some people on social media criticized the league's decision and a Minnesota Senator sent a letter to the league calling for compassion.
Dear Executive Director Martens and Minnesota State High School League Staff,
Let me give you some friendly advice. Reverse course and allow the Waseca High School Boys Hockey team to use their jerseys made in honor of Officer Arik Matson. There is a time for following rules and guidelines, but this is a time for compassion.
This tragedy has brought our community together in the typical Minnesota way. A local business stepped up and donated these unique commemorative jerseys, and the student-athletes are proud to honor this local hero during their upcoming games.
The community needs this. The state is rallying behind them. Do the right thing and make an exception for this special circumstance.
Respectfully, Senator John Jasinski, Senate District 24
The league issued the following statement on Friday:
The Minnesota State High School League and Waseca Public Schools deeply appreciate the involvement of the Waseca community, its boys and girls hockey programs and other athletic programs in honoring and supporting Officer Matson and the Waseca Police Department. The MSHSL and Waseca High School administration have been in communication this past week in identifying ways in which appropriate recognition can be demonstrated. This includes following the National Federation of High Schools uniform rules and policies which limits the size of alterations to commemorate individuals or events within competition.
Waseca also appreciates the support and creativity of Gemini Athletic in supplying commemorative jerseys for this important endeavor. The MSHSL will continue to work with all member schools and support them in ways to honor and commemorate individuals in their communities.