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Utah volleyball players carry dolls to show support for coach

May 17, 2021, 5:45 PM | Updated: 6:14 pm
Utah volleyball coach breastfeeding...
General photo of volleyball match. Photo: Canva

DENVER — When a group of Utah volleyball players entered the Colorado Convention Center this weekend, they carried baby dolls with them.  It was a sign of support for breastfeeding coaches who were barred from entering the convention center in Denver over the weekend. One of the nursing volleyball coaches not allowed into the facility was Utahn Dixie Loveless. 

Loveless, the owner of Mountain Peak Volleyball in Logan, Utah told ABC News she got a call from tournament organizers saying that if she brought her four-month-old inside the convention center, they would call the authorities. 

“I’m baffled and disgusted by that,” said Loveless. “We got a call that night saying if I even tried to enter the building, they would call the police.” 

Playing by the rulebook 

A rule is what forced Loveless to coach from outside the convention center. Colorado Crossroads Tournament Director Kay Rogness said no guest under the age of 16 was permitted inside the building. Including, apparently, Loveless’s four-month-old daughter. 

“The issue she [Loveless’s daughter] is under 16. The issue is she is not a player. She is not a coach. Those are only the facts,” said Rogness. 

Rogness said the rule is partly in place to address the limited number of attendees stipulated in Colorado’s COVID-19 regulations. Rogness told ABC News that coaches and players were aware of the rules prior to the tournament. And tournament officials said they would reevaluate the rules ahead of next year. 

Despite the tournament director’s stated reasoning, Loveless told Denever7 it felt like she was being given an ultimatum. 

I feel like the message they’re sending to these girls is you can’t be a mom and you… don’t get to be a mom… and coach. I have to choose volleyball or my family,” Loveless said.

Utah players take a stand 

In response to the rules and to show solidarity with their coach, Loveless’ players carried baby dolls into the convention center on Saturday night. Then, they won all three matches. 

“It was really hard to do it without a coach — our head coach — but we pushed through and fought for her,” player Addi Sessions told Denever7.

As Loveless sat outside feeding her infant, the team’s assistant coach led the team to victory. 

“We came here for a tournament and our girls just learned a huge lesson about defending your rights and standing up for what you believe in,” said Loveless. 

USA Volleyball caught wind of the situation and called on the tournament to reevaluate its policies in a statement released late Saturday. 

The statement as follows: 

“It has been brought to USA Volleyball’s attention that a club coach participating in the Colorado Crossroads tournament in Denver says she was prohibited from bringing her breastfeeding baby into the tournament. Colorado Crossroads is one qualifier event for the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship. Colorado Crossroads is not operated or controlled by USA Volleyball and its jurisdiction over the event is limited. USA Volleyball has expressed its disagreement with this decision to the tournament director and is encouraging the tournament to reverse the regulation.”

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Utah volleyball players carry dolls to show support for coach