“Pigtails Don’t Make You a Girl”: Volleyball Coach Takes a Stand for Fairness in Sports

By Ashley McClure

When volleyball coach Melissa Money-Beecher returned to her team after taking a season off due to illness, she discovered that the interim coach had attempted to pass off a male player as a female player. 

“Three people that I trust told me that everybody knew that this person was a guy,” Money-Beecher said. “He made himself look a lot like a girl, but he could jump double his height. No girl can do that.” 

Money-Beecher manages 18 recreational adult volleyball teams that are associated with Christian churches around Lincoln, Nebraska. She said the interim coach, a male and former friend of hers, attended her team’s pre-season rules and regulations meeting.

While the adult teams Money-Beecher manages are co-ed, there are a set number of male and female slots per team. Having more than the allotted number of males on a team gives them a significant advantage, she said. 

Money-Beecher said she chose to speak with the interim coach face-to-face about the male player—despite the awkwardness of confrontation—because taking a stand on this issue was very important to her.

“I couldn’t believe how hard it was to stand up to him,” she said. “But I found this out and I was going to address it, and it wasn’t going to happen on my watch.” 

Money-Beecher continued, “I read [the interim coach] all the rules, including the definition of male and female. He knew he was breaking them, although he lied and said, ‘I’m pretty sure that’s a girl.’” 

Money-Beecher said she knew better, however. One look at the volleyball player’s Facebook page, where the player still lists his sex as male, was enough to convince her of his true identity. 

“He thought he wouldn’t get caught because he had pigtails and dressed [femininely],” Money-Beecher said. “I told him that pigtails do not make you a girl.” 

After confronting both the interim coach and male player, Money-Beecher said that neither of the men have attended practice since. 

Despite the player’s disregard for league rules, Money-Beecher said that she intends to give him another chance to play—under the condition that he would play as a male. 

“I’m going to have a conversation with him before the next season starts and ask him if he wants to play in the league as a guy. I would love for him to play fairly and do the right thing,” she said. 

While Money-Beecher said she was determined to maintain fairness within the league, others in the community questioned why she would take a stand—especially since similar teams in the area have not. 

“In our city, Spikes [another adult volleyball league] has allowed their co-ed teams to do this,” she said. “They allow people to put in what they identify as at the beginning of the year and play accordingly. Everyone’s allowing it.” 

Money-Beecher said that many people do not see the point in stopping this behavior because “the teams aren’t that good.” 

“That’s not the point,” she said. “We need more people to not allow this, even in a tiny volleyball league like ours. We’re not into cheating to win—we’re here for fellowship and fun.” 

Money-Beecher said that “giving in” to radical gender ideology—even in the low-stakes world of adult recreational sports—creates a ripple effect that is hard to contain. 

“People are losing their focus,” she said. “If you overlook this in my little league, you start overlooking it at parks and rec, and now it’s in our colleges and high schools. Everybody needs to just stand up for what’s right, but society has made it very hard to do that.” 

Ultimately, Money-Beecher said that she will not back down—even if that means shutting down the league altogether. 

“Women are being discriminated against,” she said. “I know I’m doing the right thing.”


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