Basketball player speaks out over hecklers


Andres Fuentes

Biology senior Kayla Noto (25) faced inappropriate remarks by the student section at a Faulkner University game. Photo credit: Andres Fuentes

Andres Fuentes

Instead of celebrating a road blowout win, one Loyola basketball player took to her teammates and Twitter followers for support after being bullied for her appearance.

Loyola’s women’s team faced off against Faulkner University on Feb. 7. The Wolf Pack would win 85-66 but not before some of the home team fans heckled a member of Loyola’s team.

Biology senior Kayla Noto tweeted out, “Today, the Faulkner University Student Section informed me that “this is a girls’ game,” that I am a man, and that I “should be playing in the guys’ game.” This harassment is an unfriendly reminder that I am and will always be different, but not alone. You know what to do #LGBTQ.”

The tweet quickly trended among her followers, teammates and friends, amassing now 328 likes, 147 retweets and 24 comments.

The uproar sparked Faulkner to issue a tweet of their own, responding to the incident.

The school tweeted, “On behalf of the entire university, we want to apologize for any inappropriate remarks that were made during last night’s game against Loyola University. As a Christian university, we in NO way condone any form of harassment. Instead, we strive to show love and respect to all.”

Loyola’s Athletic Director, Brett Simpson, spoke about Faulker further expressing their regret toward the situation on Feb. 11.

Simpson said Faulkner issued personal apologies “to our team on behalf of the Faulkner community by the university president and athletic director. We appreciate their response and know that the actions of a few people in the stands should not be reflected on the many.”

Simpson also mentioned Loyola’s leadership reached out to the team, expressing words of encouragement.

“Both Coach (Kellie) Kennedy and I have talked to our players,” he said. “President (Tania) Tetlow has reached out to them as well. While this has been disappointing, we have a strong team, we support each other, and our players have support from the highest levels of the university.”

With tensions high around the incident, Noto was taken aback by the harassment but found solace among a supportive community.

“A lot of people have been asking how I feel, I think assuming that I am or was angry or mad, but that’s definitely not the case,” Noto said. “More than anything, I felt disheartened, alone and scared. Those moments are when I chose to reach out to my friends and family, people who support me.”

Despite the apology tweet and the personal regret from Faulker’s president and athletic director four days after the incident, Noto sees the whole situation as a learning experience.

“Honestly, nothing really changes after an apology from the university Twitter,” she said. “The reality is that nothing will ever be able to change their minds unless they understand me and the community that I come from.”

Noto hopes a similar incident does not repeat but is grateful for those that rallied behind her.

She said, “The apology is nice, but I’ve just been thanking the people that reach out and urging them to speak with their peers and spread awareness.”