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

In Union County, New Jersey, the kids on the 5th grade St. John’s CYO team get what it means to be a team.

There are two girls on the co-ed squad and when the organization found out, it said the girls played “illegally.”

When the kids took the floor against the lineup from St. Bartholomew the Apostle, the refs were told not to work the game. No girls!

Whatever. The kids just wanted to play some hoops, even suggesting they forefeit the contest and play an “unofficial” game instead.

“One parent told me it’s my decision (whether the girls play), but I said no way, I’m not making this decision for 11 10-year-olds,” St. John’s coach Rob Martel told NJ.com.

“Is your decision to play the game without the two young ladies on the team, or do you want to stay as a team as you have all year?” asked parent Matthew Dohn. “Show of hands for play as a team?”

Eleven hands shot up in unison. No one raised a hand when asked the alternative.

Assistant coach Keisha Martel, who is also the mom of one of the girls, Kayla Martel, reminded the team of the consequences. They had been told that playing the girls would mean the rest of the season would be forfeited.

“But if the girls play, this will be the end of your season. You won’t play in the playoffs,” she warned.

“It doesn’t matter,” one boy replied and others echoed, before the team began to chant, “Unity!”

In the crowd, supporters cheered along. Several parents began to cry.

The refs refused to officiate. The St. Bart’s kids got a lesson from their adults. They walked off the court, refusing to play against girls.

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

The rest of their season was forfeited, and the kids, who’ve played together for four years, didn’t care.

One of them led the team in prayer as they held a pizza party after their scrimmage.

“We are all here today supporting the girls and having this fun game,” he said. “It’s been a great season and it’s been fun having all you guys play basketball. Amen.”


(h/t: Paul Weimer)