Family fighting for high school athlete to play after COVID-19 transfer

The Minnesota State High School League has transfer guidelines in place that prevent student-athletes from transferring and playing a high school sport right away.

The rules are in place, in part, to prevent super teams from forming.

But a Minnesota family says their 14-year-old daughter is caught up in the rules after transferring due to COVID-19 and mental health concerns.

Molly Mangan started her ninth-grade year off at Eastview High School, but after only 11 days in class last fall, her grades fell.

"My favorite class, math, I’m pretty sure I had a D or an F, that was one of my worst grades," she shares.

Her parents, who both work in health care, quickly realized it was more than just her grades that were failing.

"There was two days where she didn’t even leave her room and I couldn’t even get her out of her room," her mom, Michelle Mangan, said. "And Molly’s my little social butterfly, my little athlete, and that’s when I started to panic."

Molly describes it as the worst time in her young life.

"I felt like I was just alone and I had no one and school was, I was drowning in schoolwork and I feel like I couldn’t breathe," Molly explains.

Her family decided to transfer her from her public school, to Hill-Murray, a private Catholic High School where she started in January with in-person classes.

"At the school I’ve made a ton of friends, they are super nice, the teachers are super amazing and I just feel like it’s a whole different world of school," Molly said.

But when she went out for softball this spring, a sport she loves, she was told she would not be allowed to play varsity due to MSHSL transfer guidelines.

Her family petitioned the league for an exception stating Molly’s mental health was the reason for the transfer — she’s since been diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. But the league voted 10-7 against her.

"This was done on a case that a child needed that social network to overcome a mental health disability. There should be no way that they had said no. They should stop punishing her and figure out how do they become child-centered," Michelle Mangan said.

While this may not change her situation, Molly is speaking out hoping the league can do what the NCAA has done for some college athletes, and waive the transfer rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I just want them to try to change their process for other kids. I don’t want anybody to have to go through what I went through — it was horrible," Molly said.

We reached out to the MSHSL, but was told they cannot comment due to date privacy.