TSRI: Cheerleader Kicked Off Maryland Twisters Over Hair

Seven-Year-Old Cheerleader Is Removed From Maryland Team After Hair Discrimination | TSR Investigates

A mother is advocating for her daughter after her cheerleading coach allegedly took issue with her natural hair. SaRaya Woolridge claims the Maryland Twisters cut her seven-year-old cheerleader in a discriminatory way.

The child, named Ryan, and her mother are Black, and the involved cheerleading coach is white. On this week’s episode of TSR Investigates, Justin Carter deep dives into what happened and how the cheerleading team has responded to the backlash.

Woolridge told Carter she’s been styling her daughter’s curly hair “half up, half down” for the last three years. This style adheres to the company policy and even mimics an example photo the team sent to parents upon sign-up.

Mother Says Her Cheerleader Was Banned From Competing Due To Hairstyle

The young cheerleader primarily wears the hairstyle during competitions and has done so for the last three years. Then, at a recent competition, Ryan’s coach prevented her from performing.

When the mother and daughter arrived at the venue, the coach allegedly informed them the child couldn’t wear her hair “like that.” She pointed to the child’s hair being “too long.” Then, she grabbed the child’s hair to demonstrate how it was “supposed to” look (a high ponytail.) Yet, their policy allegedly allows for both styles.

When Woolridge pointed that out, the coach emphasized that the young cheerleader had more hair than the child in the sample photo.

Justin Carter obtained an image of Ryan’s hair on the day of the competition. It was styled in a half-up, half-down, curly look that did not go past her shoulders.

Maryland Twisters President Sides With Coach’s Assessment Of Ryan’s Hair

Woolridge reacted to the competition ban by penning a letter to the organization’s president. In an email response, the president, Tara Rall, sided with the coach’s assessment.

“Ryan does have a lot of beautiful hair. I know in your attached photos it seems similar to the girls in the photos. However, I did see her yesterday. She had much more hair than this photo shows. It is longer in real life, because it’s all one length, and the other girls have their hair cut in shorter layers…With that said, Ryan needs to have her hair in a high pony for the next event.”

The emailed communications continued, ultimately leading to Tara immediately cutting the young cheerleader from the team. She claimed their values did “not align.”

SaRaya told Justin Carter she was “absolutely shocked” by the response.

After the hair discrimination accusation involving Ryan went viral on social media, the Maryland Twisters quickly changed their tune.

Watch the episode below to see how the team scrambled to address the backlash.


TSR Investigates explores cold cases and special interest news stories underrepresented in mainstream media.

RELATED: Black Texas Student Suspended Again For His Locs After Refusing To Cut His Hair


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