Teen benched, leaves team over long hair grown for cancer charity
MAY 07, 2014 12:22p ET
Talk about a bad hair day.
A Canadian teenager has left his youth league baseball team after his refusal to cut his long locks put him in a hairy situation with an old-school coach dead-set on getting him a trim.
The player, 16-year-old Liam Nazarek of Pincher Creek, Alberta — located about an hour north of the U.S. border in Montana — had grown his hair out for more than a year in an effort to donate it to a foundation that makes wigs for cancer patients.
But Bryan MacKenzie, coach of Nazarek's team, the Pincher Creek Junior Dust Devils, was apparently not moved by Nazarek's humanitarian motivation behind the hair and gave Nazarek an ultimatum: Cut it or sit on the bench.
"I have a rule on my baseball team, and I've had the same rule for the past six or seven years — I tell the kids, have your hair at respectable length, and look like ball players," the 45-year-old MacKenzie told the Calgary Sun.
That explanation didn't fly, however, for Nazarek's mother, Kimberley Jorgenson, who discreetly videotaped a conversation she had with MacKenzie about her son's 'do and posted it to Facebook in an effort to out the coach's hard-line, conservative ways.
"We have come to a decision Kim, that he is not going to be playing for me unless he cuts his hair," MacKenzie can be heard telling Jorgenson early on in the clip, to which Jorgenson replied that the length of a player's hair is "not part of baseball."
In the end, though, Jorgenson was unwilling to convince MacKenzie to make an exception for her son, and it seems the league, the Pincher Creek Minor Baseball Association, is siding with MacKenzie, and has admonished Jorgenson for her "inappropriate use of social media."
"The parent in this situation . . . manipulated the the situation using social media," the league told the CBC in a statement. "This is totally unacceptable if not only because it sets a terrible example for our children. There was no respect in this situation whatsoever."
Not content to cut his hair or accept his benching until he did, Nazarek left the Pincher Creek Junior Dust Devils team and may look at joining a team in another league that would allow him to let his hair down — not that he should expect that to make a difference to his former coach.
"I guess I'm old school, you bet," MacKenzie told the Calgary Sun. "Why does it matter? Because I'm trying to teach these kids about some character, and some life skills.
"This isn't about catching a ball — it's about getting along on a team, and about being respectable young people, and to be able to cope in life, because you're always going to be dealing with rules and people."