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Changes coming to high school softball after Black teen was forced to cut her hair

The rule change was after a North Carolina teen said she was forced to cut her braids or sit out the rest of the game.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There will be big changes coming to softball nationwide after a high school player in North Carolina had to cut her hair during a game earlier this year. 

The National Federation of  State High School Associations (NFHS) announced it will now allow students to have "hard items," like beads, in their hair, as well as religious coverings. 

"We are excited about that and want to support that," said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, executive director of NFHS. "And while we will always strive to keep kids safe and keep games being played the way they were designed to be played, we do want to recognize the importance of a young person's identity."

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The change was made after Nicole Pyles, a sophomore at Durham's Hillside High School, said she was forced to cut her braids or sit out the rest of the game. Pyles was playing a game against Jordan High School when the umpires told her that her hairstyle violated policies governing uniforms and headwear. 

"I was embarrassed and really upset," Pyles said. "There was no real safety concern. They just said it's a safety thing and I'm like, 'against who?'" 

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Pyles' father was furious when he heard what happened. 

“She didn’t deserve what happened to her,” Julius Pyles said. “Now we have to change our own personas to make somebody else feel good and that’s not right. We’re losing our identities while they’re keeping theirs.”

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