Faced with forfeits, 5th graders keep the girls on their team

  • Faced with forfeits, 5th graders keep the girls on their team

Faced with forfeits, 5th graders keep the girls on their team

A fifth-grade basketball team in New Jersey learned that, because they had played two girls in a non-coed league, two of their wins had been vacated.

"Show of hands, play as a team?" the players were asked.

St. John's was scheduled to play Saturday at Aquinas Academy in Livingston, N.J. Leslie Thomas, the athletic director for Aquinas, tells nj.com its team was willing to play St. John's with or without girls on the roster.

The team was prepared to face an early end to their season when the fifth graders stood in solidarity Friday night against a ruling by the archdiocese two weeks earlier that the girls should never have been considered eligible to play on the boys team. The game was delayed while coaches, parents and officials tried to figure out a solution. On top of that, the team's record was wiped clean because the girls were considered "illegal" players.

Watching those hands go up in the vote after the kids were briefed on the consequences ― the cancellation of the game and no playoffs ― is one of the more touching moments you'll see in sports at any level.

But the director's notice only came after a game against St. Theresa's, when a complaint was made.

"It doesn't matter", one boy replied and others echoed, before the team began to chant, "Unity!" NJ.com reported that the refs said League Director Rich Donovan had instructed them not to call the game if the girls were playing. Prior to their match-up against St. Bartholomew the Apostle on Friday, St. John's coach left it up to the team to decide what they wanted to do.

Although the team's season is officially over, Dohn said they will continue to practice together. But parents said there simply wasn't enough interest from girls to form their own team.

The St. John's kid split their team in half and had a scrimmage.

"It has a big impact on me because it shows that they care".

There, another crusade is being waged - the family of a 7th grade girl, Sydney Phillips, sued after the school wouldn't allow her to play for its boys basketball team.