MURFREESBORO – The sight of a hijabi player in Siegel senior basketball team games may be strange to many. But for Razan Haj-Hussein, her love for the game and respect for modesty are inseparable.
“The No. 1 question I get asked is, ‘Don’t you ever get hot?’ Razan Haj-Hussein told The Daily News Journal on Wednesday.
“I do. But I get used to it. When I’m on the court I just play. I forget about the layers,” Haj-Hussein admitted in an interview with Daily News Journal on Wednesday.
She has been wearing hijab since the 8th grade.
Siegel girls coach, Shawn Middleton, talked proudly about Haj-Hussein.
“The referees are very understanding, as long as the colors match the uniform. She’s always prepared if she needs to change into a different color,” he said.
“She’s out there sweating in the middle of June, but there was no whining or complaining. She plays as hard as she can with no barriers. Razan is a leader.”
The young Muslim player fell in love with the sport in gym class. “I couldn’t wait until 5th grade where I could play for the team,” she informed.
Haj-Hussein is the only high school player in Rutherford County who wears a hijab during games.
“People thought I’d stop playing since I was wearing it. I wasn’t going to stop doing what I love the most,” she said.
Her colleague, Sam Check, expressed that Haj-Hussein “loves being on this team.” “She’s always very respectful. She’s always ready to play and hustles hard. I love playing with her.”
In addition to her sports activity, Haj-Hussein is an active leader in the Murfreesboro Muslim Youth group. She also attends with her family the events and activities of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM).
The young player is proud that her family’s support has been a driving force in her happiness and success on the court.
“I want to play with a hijab, and they’re proud of me,” she expressed happily. “I also get so many compliments from youth groups. Little girls come up to me and they’re amazed. They want to do the same thing.”
Following the ICM construction in 2010, several citizens have protested and filed two lawsuits against it. This hindered Murfreesboro’s Muslim community from operating the center until August 2012 when the lawsuits were dismissed.
“Being on this basketball team has given me another family,” she acknowledged.
“When I saw everything happening, like ICM’s vandalism, it made me sad. I want to push to be better. Playing basketball has made me want to be better.”
Upon graduation, Haj-Hussein plans to attend Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and major in athletic training. She doesn’t want to stray far from her love for sports.
“I just want to show people that girls in hijabs can do it, too,” she said. “We shouldn’t stop doing what we do.”