East Portland

Coach: Lose the pink socks, or lose your time on the football field

Coach: Lose the pink socks, or lose your time on the football field »Play Video
Reilly Zinda said his coach wouldn't let him play if he was wearing pink socks.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Breast cancer awareness month apparently doesn’t extend to one local football field.

Reilly Zinda plays for Floyd Light Middle School. He headed to his football game on Saturday wearing pink socks – just like he’d seen NFL players do to promote breast cancer awareness.

He said his idea was quickly snuffed out by his coach.

"I was walking over to the field and the coach asked me if I was going to play barefoot and I said no,” Zinda said. “He told me I could not play because I was wearing pink socks."

Zinda took it personally – “Angry, mad,” is how he described his reaction – because his mother recently fought cancer.

Michelle Zinda has been cancer-free for just a few weeks.

"I think that we're teaching our kids the wrong lesson by teaching them uniformity,” she said. “We should be teaching them to support each other.

"Somebody you know is fighting a battle and I think it's important that everybody works together and shows support for one another."

Multiple calls to Reilly Zinda’s volunteer coach and the director of David Douglas Youth Football were not returned.

Assistant coach Scott Moyer emailed KATU's Hillary Lake Monday afternoon, saying coaches told the team about the uniform policy two weeks ago when someone asked about pink socks.

"What we have told the players, if everyone on the team was able to wear them, we would allow it," said Moyer. "Our school district has a high percentage of kids on free and reduced lunch, we're not going to make kids go buy $15 pair of socks."

Portland Youth Football League commissioner Anthony Jordan says the league has some basic rules about uniforms, but it leaves color choices up to each individual football association. He said most teams are allowing players to wear pink socks in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"This weekend we had 115 kids in our association and literally every last one of them were in pink," said Jordan. "The privilege that we get to love and care for these kids is to educate yourself on what's going on, but then also the younger players being able to say 'hey, here's my opportunity to honor my mom, is it OK?'"

The coach did let Reilly play – but only after he lost the socks.

"My friend offered up her white socks,” Michelle Zinda said. “He changed his socks and went to the coaches and asked if he could play because now he has white socks on and they said absolutely."

Update:

After seeing our stories, a Tualatin business man is stepping in to help. The owner of Accurate Heating says he want to buy the entire team pink socks so Reilly can wear his.

KATU is in contact with both the team and business owner to work out the deal. The business owner hopes to have socks ready for this Saturday's game.