Junior track athlete Michael Barker disregarded the detail in the West Iron County athletic code about excessive hair and distraction, and for what he says was a good reason.
“My mom had breast cancer three times; she just got out of it,” Barker said. “She asked to see if I’d do something for her.”
So he dyed his existing mohawk a bright pink in honor of Breast Cancer awareness. Yet because it was a violation of the athletic code, he was asked numerous times by the school to cut it off, all of which he refused. This week on a bus getting ready to head to a track meet, Michael was asked to leave.
“They told me to go back in the office. They told me the same thing, ‘You gotta cut it off’; I told them no, they told me ‘well you can’t run then’, then I told them I quit,” Barker said.
When his track buddies senior Bryson Heimerl and senior Chasz Jonet found out, they, too, walked off the bus and quit the team.
“You don’t let somebody walk off and get treated like that and not support them,” Jonet said.
“It was an easy choice, a very, very easy choice to support Michael,” Heimerl said. “Without Michael and Chasz on the team, it’s just not the same.”
The West Iron County School District released a statement saying “The West Iron County Schools supports the needs of students to express themselves, as long as their expression does not interfere with the education process.” They continued by saying “the athletic department is going to work with the student and parents to resolve this issue”, that “he was not dismissed from the team”, and that they “welcome his participation in the future”.