Football Coach Throws Punch Over Girl's Right to Play

One Colorado team refused to play another because they had a female player.

Oct. 7, 2009 — -- An 11-year-old girl was the center of a sideline fist fight when coaches from opposing teams disagreed over whether a female should be allowed to play in a tackle football game.

Shawn Mills, the coach of the Eaton Middle School football team in Colorado, says he was punched in the face by Nate Hernandez, the coach of a local Boys & Girls club team, after he told Hernandez that he wouldn't let his team play against one with a girl on it.

Mills told police that when Hernandez had originally contacted him to schedule a game between the teams, he had relayed the information to parents that the opposing team would have a girl on it. The parents objected, claiming that it was against their religious beliefs to hit a girl.

Mills said that on Monday, the day the scrimmage was scheduled to be played, Hernandez walked over to him with his right guard, Makayla Crespin, who also happens to be his niece.

According to a police report of the incident, Hernandez said to Mills, "You tell her why your team doesn't want her to play."

When Mills said he told Hernandez that this wasn't the "time or place" to discuss it and stated that the game would not be played if Crespin was on the field, he claimed Hernandez began to call him names and swear at him. Then Hernandez punched Mills, according to the report.

Parents from Makayla's team also approached Mills, he told police, and asked why he was refusing to let the teams play.

Mills declined to press charges against Hernandez, but Hernandez has since been suspended from coaching duties at The Boys & Girls club, according to the Denver Post.

In an interview with ABC News' Denver affiliate 7News, Makayla said that she was upset about the fight.

"It really hurt my feelings," said Makayla, who wears number 62. "Because girls can do the same as boys."

Football Team With Girl at Right Guard Is 5-0

Mills and Hernandez did not return calls made by, but Hernandez told 7News, that he regretted the way he handled the dispute. he still had high hopes for the team, though.

"I feel strongly about what I did," Hernandez said. "I think it's not right [I was suspended from games] but they have to do what they have to."

"My team is 5-0. They will go 7-0 without me," he said.

Greg Kimbrough, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, told 7News that he hopes the incident doesn't discourage Makayla from playing in the future.

"She needs to keep participating," he told 7News, noting that lots of other teams at the club have girls and that he's never run into this type of problem before.

"I applaud her and her willingness to step out onto the football field," said Kimbrough. "This event had less to do with Makayla playing football and more to do with adults handling themselves inappropriately."