This is a story about Muslim women. It’s a completely happy story.

Except for when they lost the big game.

“All right, let’s play,” says Hebah Sadek, coach of the Carolina Cyclones, at the start of a recent Wednesday night practice at the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte. That weekend, the Cyclones — 10 young women of shared faith, but not much athletic experience — would pile into a van bound for Tampa, Fla., to play in a national youth tournament sponsored by the Muslim American Society.

When crunch time came, Sadek and her fellow players were focused, even intense, but always considerate.

“My bad — sorry,” mutters Sophie Brelvi, when a bounce pass misses its target wide.

“Nice,” she says a moment later, when teammate Sadek retrieves the stray ball, fakes left, drives around a defender and lays it up for an easy two.

In line with their religious observance, the Cyclones play in hijab, the head-covering traditionally worn by Muslim girls who’ve reached adolescence. Their practice togs: long-sleeve T-shirts over track pants or sweats. Never shorts. (MORE)


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