Alyssa Wruble is the only woman on her high school hockey team. As a result, she’s accustomed to hearing jeers from opposing fans. But last week, the taunts against Wruble took an especially nasty turn, when a handmade sign inside of the arena mocked her gender and suggested she wasn’t a woman.
“Alyssa gender reveal?,” the sign asked. The written taunt was placed next to a blue box with the symbol for the male sex and a pint box with the symbol for the female sex. Lehigh Valley Life first reported the story.
While Wruble says she didn't notice the sign, the Pennsylvania high school senior did hear the nasty insults from the other team’s fans, who belittled her for playing ice hockey with men.
“When I skated over all I heard was ‘Wruble, you’re a dude,’ and apparently my uncle and aunt and also my father also heard them saying that I have a penis,” she told Fox 29 in Pennsylvania. “It was really loud. The whole student section had to be doing it.”
As aspiring Olympian, Wruble, who’s 17 years old, plays on the coed varsity club hockey team associated with her Lehigh Valley-area high school. The ugly taunts occurred last week, when her team took on the club team for rival Parkland High School in the second of three matchups that would determine the winner of the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League championship.
“I just kept my head down, I just played and I just kept focused on the game,” Wruble said, via the Washington Post. “I wasn’t going to let them get into my head and ruin the game for me.”
Over the weekend, Wruble’s aunt, Donna Boss, shared pictures of the derogatory sign on Facebook. It’s worth noting Wruble scored two goals, though her team lost.
“The level of unsportsmanlike conduct during these several championship games was mine boggling,” the post reads. “I’ve toyed with whether or not to even put this out there for fear of upsetting my niece even further but she knows this was done out of sheer jealousy. They couldn’t go after her personality… She rocks. They couldn’t go after her skill… She kills it in the games￼￼￼. So this is what we’re left with.”
Parkland High School said the sign was posted by a “random fan” who doesn’t have any connection to its coaches or players. The president of Parkland Ice Hockey, Mike Byelick, stepped down amid the controversy, saying he’s received threats due to the story. The organization’s vice president, Rob Bilger, told Fox 29 the club possesses “zero tolerance” for bullying.
Wruble, whose sexuality isn’t publicly identified, says the insults won’t prohibit her from pursuing the sport she loves. In addition to playing for her high school team, she belongs to a Philadelphia Jr. Flyers travel team and attends the Philadelphia Hockey Academy.
“It’s always been her dream,” Wruble’s mother, Heidi, said to Lehigh Valley Live. “She just fell in love with this sport. It’s her passion.”
As of Wednesday morning, Wruble’s aunt’s Facebook post, which denounces the cruelty directed towards her niece, has more than 2,200 “likes” and nearly 5,000 shares.