NORTH MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) - A volleyball tryout has sparked a fiery debate at North Muskegon High School over what kept one girl off the varsity team. Her mother says she wasn't allowed to play because of legal concerns over a previous injury, even though a doctor's note gave her the all clear. However, school officials say she was cut because of ability not health.
"I've put in work since I was 11 years old, but I won't be with the best team I ever had," says Jade Johnson, who was cut from the varsity team.
Jade had a doctor's note saying she was cleared to play volleyball with no restrictions. However, her mother Lori Johnson says the district's new varsity coach wouldn't let her daughter finish tryouts because of liability concerns over a back injury in 2010. Johnson says she was told the decision was made two weeks earlier.
"The coach told me if Jade did get on the team, she would bench her for the entire year, so she would not possibly get hurt. If my daughter did get hurt, the coach said she was liable and could get fired," says Johnson.
"There are only so many slots on the team and some kids don't make the team," says Dr. Curt Babcock, Superintendent of North Muskegon Schools.
Dr. Babcock insists Jade was cut because of ability not health.
"The tryout was in process and the coach felt the student wasn't demonstrating the skills needed. The coach made the decision to release the student from the team," says Dr. Babcock.
Jade played freshmen and sophomore year, before taking time off last year to recover.
"I did swimming and aerobics and everything I could. I feel great so I don't understand," says Jade.
"They tell her she's a great valued asset and then in the next breath, we're not letting you play," says Lori Johnson.
"The decision by the coach was made on athletic ability of all the students during tryouts," says Dr. Babcock.
Jade is still hoping the district will change their mind. She says many of her former teammates are behind her.
"They're saying I'm a meaningful teammate and they wish things were different. It means a lot," says Jade.
School officials say there are 11 players on the varsity volleyball team this year. Jade says she will play volleyball for fun in the future, but never for a school team again.