The Coast Union Bronco football team scored a win on Saturday without putting on uniforms or taking the home field in Cambria.

The Valley Christian Academy Lions refused to play because the Broncos have two girls on the team, Emily Reed and Andrea Aguilar. Instead, VCA forfeited the game.

It’s the second time in about a year that the private Christian academy, which is based in Santa Maria, has forfeited a game against Coast Union on religious grounds. In October 2022, VCA similarly refused to play the San Luis Obispo County school’s football team because it has female players.

The move was an apparent violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination in sports based on gender, as well as California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) rules that schools must adhere to and comply with Title IX.

It comes as women and girls continue to break barriers in male-dominated sports such as football.

On Sept. 23, a Shenandoah University safety became the first female player in a non-kicking position to take the field in an NCAA football game.

Because of the forfeit, Coast Union’s record has improved to 2-3, 1-0 in the Coast Valley League.

Santa Maria School Faced Lawsuit Over Gender Discrimination

VCA has a history of refusing to play football teams with female athletes on the roster.

In 2021, the parent of a female player on Cuyama Valley High School football filed a lawsuit against VCA, First Baptist Church of Santa Maria and Joel Mikkelson, the lead pastor and school superintendent for VCA, alleging gender discrimination because the Santa Maria school would not play Cuyama Valley while her daughter was on the team.

Editor’s note: Read Noozhawk’s May story on the lawsuit settlement, in which VCA was ordered to pay $20,000 to the girl and her attorneys.

In a letter to Cuyama Valley High School quoted in the Santa Maria Times, Mikkelson wrote, “Football is a violent game and we understand the value of such in training our young men within the boundaries of an organized sport.”

Citing passages from the Bible, Mikkelson added that VCA bears “no ill will towards Cuyama Valley High School or any of its students or their families.”

The Lions’ leadership had not responded to requests for comment regarding the forfeit of Saturday’s game as of Monday morning.

What’s Next for Coast Union Football Team?

Broncos offensive coordinator Charlie Casale confirmed Saturday that the Lions decided to accept a forfeit rather than play a team with girls. “Yes, that is VCA policy,” Casale said.

“We are always ready to play,” Casale added. “We were not worried about it and we are working on Coastal Christian.”

Coast Union’s homecoming game on Oct. 7 will feature the Broncos taking on Pismo Beach-based Coastal Christian School. The game starts at 6 p.m. in Cambria. The Broncos have three games remaining after the homecoming game.

On Saturday, Oct. 14, Coast Union plays a Coast Valley League game at San Luis Obispo Classical Academy. The Broncos return home on Saturday, Oct. 21, to play a non-league game against Turlock Christian at 6 p.m. The final game of the season for Coast is at Cuyama Valley on Saturday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m.

Eight-man football games are obliged to play mostly Saturday games – rather than the traditional Friday night setting – because of a shortage of game officials. Broncos football games are broadcast on BOB FM (105.3).