Pasternaks' saga comes to abrupt end

ROCHELLE SQUIRES and ADAM CLAYTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

A controversial hockey saga has come to an abrupt end.

The girls at the centre of a human rights struggle have no plans to play hockey elsewhere, said their dad.

He hopes his family will be left alone.

Brent Jorgenson is also looking forward to hockey and life at his high school returning to normal.

The member of the boys' hockey team at West Kildonan Collegiate said he would have had no problem playing alongside the sisters had either of them made the team.

"They're just like any other player getting cut," the 17-year-old said yesterday.

Winnipeg High School Hockey League president Mike Wake said he trusts the team's coaches selected players based on their skill levels.

"I know they don't show any bias whatsoever and that they've picked the roster they feel will best give them a chance to win games this year," he said.

"They're not looking at male versus female, they're looking at players."

TOO BAD

Wake, who coaches St. James Collegiate's girls hockey team, said he's never seen the Pasternak sisters skate but their time away from hockey couldn't have helped their chances of making the team.

"It's too bad they hadn't played hockey while awaiting this decision because it probably would have helped them in the long run," he said.

"I don't care whether you're Wayne Gretzky or these girls, you're going to be one or two steps behind."

Manitoba Human Rights Commission lawyer Sarah Lugtig said the ruling only affects girls who want to play boys' hockey.

It doesn't allow boys to try out for girls' teams and won't necessarily have an impact on other high school sports, like volleyball and basketball, she said.

"Female hockey is a very different sport than boys' hockey and very few women are able to play on men's teams," said Lugtig.

Based on those two reasons, the adjudicator ordered the rules be changed for boys' hockey only and simply advised the Manitoba High School Athletics Association (MHSAA) to examine their gender rules for other sports.

She said the adjudicator was very clear about protecting girls-only teams.

"You need girls-only teams to ensure girls have equal access to sport."

Wally Pasternak, the girls' father, said the drawn-out human rights tribunal and ensuing media circus could have been avoided if the MHSAA had given his daughters a chance to try out two years earlier when they first asked in Grade 10.

"Why hasn't the MHSAA reviewed their policy and changed it in over 20 years as far as anybody can remember and gotten into 2006 instead of 1980?" he said.

The angry father then took a swipe at the media for incessantly covering the case and not always favourably towards his daughters.

"They bashed the shit out of two little 17-year-old girls without knowing all the facts," he said.


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