Smiths Station child unable to play in championship due to religious beliefs

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 11:19 PM EST
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SMITHS STATION, Ala. (WTVM) - For parents in the Chattahoochee Valley, heading to little league games may be very common. The Packers, a little league team in Smiths Station, has made it to the playoffs.

The coaches of that team say they may be headed to the playoffs without their most valuable player. 6-year-old Kayden may have to sit out due to religious beliefs.

Not only does 6-year-old Kayden Terry loves to tackle, but he also plays every position on his team. Shawanda Terry, Kayden’s mom, says although he is sad that he can’t play in the championship game, Kayden understands he will always have God.

At the beginning of the Packers season, Shawanda Terry says she enrolled Kayden with the Packers because she was assured there would be no games on Fridays or Saturdays.

However, coaches tell WTVM the league traditionally plays its championship games on Saturdays. Coaches, believing Kayden could play on any other day than Saturday, arranged for the game to be moved to Friday.

However, for Seventh-Day Adventists, there is no work and limited activities from Friday night to Saturday night. Kayden’s mother says the team was notified on October 27th that the championship game was going to be held on a Friday night.

“He’s heartbroken, um, but at the same time, he understands that even after football, you’re going to always have God, and so he understands, and he says mommy I understand but I don’t understand why they would change things up now that we’re so close,” said Shawanda Terry.

I reached out to the director of Smiths Station little league Adam Sanders, who says parents of both teams were notified of the change. However, Sanders says it wasn’t brought to his attention that he couldn’t play until Monday.

“Moving it a day earlier, the other team was gonna have kids missing, and if we moved it to Saturday evening, which was another option that was presented from the ladies the child’s mother, we would had coaches missing, so neither one of those days would have worked,” Adam Sanders said.

Terry says Kayden’s teammates are standing with him. Shawanda Terry has received several messages from other parents saying if Kayden can’t play they won’t either.

“Hoping that maybe next year we’re still holding on to hope there are several parents that have made a stand and said that if Kayden is not there, they are they’re standing with Kayden that they don’t like this and their child would not play now we did not put any pressure on them because I let them know hey listen you do was best for your child,” said Shawanda Terry.

Both coaches I spoke with said they have done everything they can by speaking to the Smiths Station little league board to ensure all of the kids could play in this championship game.