Girls’ volleyball teams at an Illinois Islamic school are celebrating history after winning regional finals for the first time.
The Lady Crescents 7th and 8th grade girls at MCC Academy in Morton Grove recently joined the Illinois Elementary School Association and Illinois High School Association to compete in sports.
“To win the regional finals, this is the first time; and isn’t the first time just for our school, but the first Muslim school in the state of Illinois, and even in the United States, to have two different grade levels to go to the sectionals and state,” MCC superintendent Habeeb Quadri said, CBS News reported.
Unfortunately, both teams lost at sectionals, but going this far is already a huge win. In fact, the team’s MVP only started playing volleyball at the beginning of last year.
“I was really excited and really proud, because I feel like, as a team, we’ve gotten so far that we got the opportunity to go to regionals as an Islamic school that isn’t as popular,” 8th grader Dalia Sarsour said.
Donning their hijab, the teams were given a chance to play sport while representing their religion.
“I feel like at first they view us differently,” Sarsour said.
“It’s because other schools don’t wear the headscarf, and we do, but I feel like as they’ve gotten to play with us and know us better, they’ve realized that we don’t play any differently than anyone else, and we are all the same.”
“We were just so impressed with the way our team was received,” principal Salma Ahmed said.
“I remember one of the coaches, they would lift up the back of their hijab to make sure the number was in the center of their jersey, or whatever, just to make sure the rules were followed. I came home telling our superintendent and the staff that we were so well-respected, and so well-appreciated, and accommodated. It was phenomenal.”
“I’m very proud, because not everybody recognizes us, and when we play, especially in stat, they see our religion, and our culture, and they see how we act, and our character, and everything,” 7th grader Jamila Abdeljabar said.
MCC Academy is a state-recognized, parochial elementary institution, nationally accredited by AdvancEd.
The Academy has a renowned, prestigious reputation as one of Chicago’s best Islamic schools. Opening doors in August 1990, it had a total enrollment of 25 students and only offered Kindergarten, First and Second grades.
MCC Academy now has an enrollment upwards of more than 800 students, over 90 staff members and offers preschool through 12th grades plus a full-time boys and girls Quran memorization program.