HARRIS COUNTY – The ninth-grade volleyball game between Cypress Creek High School and Jersey Village High School had not begun when Santana Harris said her coach summoned her over to speak with a game official.
“I see the referee talking to my coach and pointing to me and making a big scene, and everybody is looking at me, and I felt very embarrassed,” said Harris, a ninth grader at Cy-Creek High School, and a member of the volleyball team.
Harris said while she had noticed attention being directed toward her, she did not know why until her coach called her over.
“She was telling me, and the ref was telling me, yelling at me in my face that I needed to take all my beads out or else I couldn’t play. And [the referee] was saying (that) I knew I couldn’t play with them and that I was doing it on purpose,” Harris said.
The game took place on Sept. 20 at Jersey Village High School.
Harris’s father, Trell Carson, said he didn’t find out about what happened until after the game.
Carson said he felt helpless — and confused.
“She felt discriminated against. She felt humiliated and disrespected that she was asked to do this when all season this had never been an issue at all,” Carson said.
It should not have been an issue, according to revised guidelines approved by the Texas Association of Sports Officials in Feb. 2022.
“Hair adornments such as beads are now legal in high school volleyball as long as they are securely fastened and do not endanger other players,” TASO wrote in changes posted to its website on Feb. 23.
A spokesperson for Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District confirmed with KPRC2 that its administrators “followed up with the officials’ organization that runs the contests to make them aware of the individual referee’s ruling on Thursday. Campus administration met with the parent on Friday regarding the concern. Neither CFISD nor UIL have a policy regarding hair beads,” concluded Leslie Francis, assistant superintendent for communication and community relations, Cy-Fair ISD.
Harris and her father said they want a formal apology from the referee who made the call.
“I felt like I couldn’t do anything because I wasn’t at that particular game that she was brought down to this level. It really hurt me,” Carson said.
It hurt Santana, as well. She said it especially hurt after what she said she did in order to comply with the referee’s order.
“I had to use one of my friend’s mom’s pocket knives to take them out and I was just rushing,” she said.
While most volleyball games in the Houston-are are officiated by the Houston Area Volleyball Officials’ Chapter, the organization confirmed to KPRC2 on Monday the referee in question did not work for them.