A high school in Maine may be the first in the nation to offer athletic hijabs for Muslim student-athletes to wear with their uniforms.
This spring, girls on the tennis and lacrosse teams at Deering High School are wearing the sports hijabs instead of the traditional head scarf that has to be secured with pins.
"In the sports hijab, I can do whatever I choose to do on the field without worrying about my hijab falling off," said Sulwan Achmed, a junior lacrosse player.
She said before she had the option of wearing the fitted sports hijab, she would worry about her head scarf falling off during the game.
"With these hijabs I feel comfortable and confident enough to go out on the field and be fierce," she said.
The idea to purchase the athletic hijabs came from the co-captains on the girls tennis team — who don't actually wear head scarves themselves.
Tennis co-captain Liva Pierce said she heard that Nike was planning to come out with a sports hijab, and then the team learned that a smaller business in Minnesota was producing a similar version, coming out this spring.
"I didn't even think twice about it," said Pierce. "If there's something you can do as a captain to make your teammates feel more welcome, and safe, and happy — why not just do it?"
Pierce said they carefully considered how they would purchase the hijabs, foreseeing a potential conflict over buying religious items with school funds. They decided to try setting up an online fundraiser with a GoFundMe page.
"Within the first 12 hours, we had this overwhelmingly positive response," said Pierce.
In two days, the students raised more than $400 — doubling their initial fundraising goal. They were able to purchase 25 hijabs.
"It takes a lot of courage, in this day in age and in this climate that we're in," said Athletic Director Melanie Craig. "These ladies are stepping up, and making a stance.
Craig said the students have made a statement that transcends sports: they're telling their classmates that any student, regardless of background or belief, can comfortably compete together.
"We're very proud of our diversity," she said.
Craig has received inquiries from coaches around the country, and expects to see other schools offering the sports hijabs soon.
"It makes me feel so happy and glad that people actually care about others, and other cultures," said Tabarek Kadhim, a sophomore on the tennis team who wears the sports hijab.
The teammates hope this new uniform option encourages other Muslim girls to get into sports.
"I wear that sports hijab, and it's like I"m representing something bigger," said Achmed.