A state senator is intervening after the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) told a Waseca high school hockey team that it couldn’t wear jerseys honoring a wounded police officer.
The jerseys are emblazoned with the words “Waseca Police” and the badge number of law enforcement officer Arik Matson, who was shot in the head January 6 while attempting to apprehend a suspect. Matson’s last name appears above each player’s number on the back of the jerseys, but the MSHSL said the custom uniforms don’t comply with league rules.
State Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault) sent a letter Friday to MSHSL officials asking them to “reverse course.”
“Let me give you some friendly advice,” said Jasinski’s letter. “There is a time for following rules and guidelines, but this is a time for compassion. This tragedy has brought our community together in the typical Minnesota way. A local business stepped up and donated these unique commemorative jerseys, and the student-athletes are proud to honor this local hero during their upcoming games.”
Jasinski said the “community needs this” and asked the MSHSL to “do the right thing and make an exception for this special circumstance.”
In a joint statement issued Friday afternoon, the MSHSL and Waseca Public Schools said they have been communicating about “ways in which appropriate recognition can be demonstrated.”
“This includes following the National Federation of State High School Associations uniform rules and policies which limits the size of alterations to commemorate individuals or events within competition,” said the statement. “Waseca also appreciates the support and creativity of Gemini Athletic in supplying commemorative jerseys for this important endeavor. The MSHSL will continue to work with all member schools and support them in ways to honor and commemorate individuals in their communities.”
A GoFundMe started for Matson’s family has already raised $191,434 towards his recovery efforts. The family said in a January 21 statement that Matson is “still in the ICU,” but has been “steadily improving.”
“He’s following commands here and there but still not awake and aware of his surroundings,” said the statement. “Things are moving in the right direction but he has a long road of recovery and therapy in front of him.”
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