Waseca, MN – The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) has refused to allow the Waseca Bluejays varsity hockey teams to wear specially-made jerseys honoring a local officer who was shot in the head in the line of duty.
The jerseys were donated to the teams by Gemini Athletic Wear of Edina, WCCO reported.
The rear neckline inside the jerseys also has a photo of the wounded officer and his two young daughters.
Officer Matson, 32, was shot in the head by 37-year-old fugitive Tyler Janovsky as the officer was investigating a suspicious person call on the night of Jan. 6.
Janovsky suffered non-life threatening wounds when police returned fire, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said during a press conference the next day.
He has been charged with possession of a firearm by an ineligible person and three counts of attempted murder of a police officer, FOX News reported.
Officer Matson, a married father-of-two, remains in intensive care, but has been “steadily improving,” according to a fundraising page established to help him and his young family.
“He’s able to slightly nod ‘yes’ or shake his head ‘no’ to questions but it’s easier for him to give us a thumbs up or down,” an update post read, according to the Star Tribune.
On Jan. 14, the hockey team announced that it would wear the new jerseys with pride in support of the wounded officer, Bring Me The News reported.
But on Thursday, the hockey teams learned that they will not be allowed to wear the jerseys during games because they do not conform with the MSHSL’s “policy for Special Recognition, Commemorative or Memorial Patches,” the Waseca Boys Hockey team said in a Twitter post.
“The Boys will be wearing these jerseys for WARMUPS ONLY,” another post read. “Be there early if you want to catch a glimpse.”
The Star Tribune was unable to reach a MSHSL representative for comment on Thursday.
“It’s in their bylaws,” boys’ hockey coach Chris Storey told the paper. “We’re just trying to comply the best we can…We would like to wear them for a game. If not, it’s not going to stop us from raising awareness and supporting this officer. It’s the best we can do right now.”
He said that every member of his team agreed that they wanted to wear the jerseys.
“These are 16, 17, 18-year-old kids. It gives them an opportunity to support something that’s bigger than them,” Storey told WCCO. “We support the people who support us and we want to do what we can to help this family out.”
Storey also noted that it is important for people to recognize law enforcement officers’ service to their communities all the time – not only when something horrific happens.
“How easy is it to walk by someone and you didn’t even shake their hand or thank them for what they did,” he told the Star Tribune.
Gemini Athletic Wear National Sales Manager Jim Kilpatrick said that the company created and donated the jerseys to raise awareness about the sacrifices law enforcement officers make, WCCO reported.
“For us, in a situation like this it’s bringing a full experience to it and making awareness for a tragic situation,” Kilpatrick explained. “Hopefully we can bring some light in a good way to what these phenomenal officers do for us on a day-to-day basis.”
The team will auction the jerseys at the end of the season, and the proceeds will be given to Officer Matson’s family, WCCO reported.