GARDEN CITY, New York . Keeling Pilaro puts up tough competition on the Southampton High School field hockey team. Keeling has great stick play and blazing speed. But there’s another reason why Keeling stands out in games: He is the only boy in an all-girls’ league.
Most people agree that the 14-year-old is a good field hockey player. However, many have questioned whether he is too good to play in the league. According to a high school sports committee, the answer is yes. The committee briefly banned the teen from playing in 2012.
The group claimed Keeling had become too skilled an athlete to play alongside girls.Keeling grew up in Ireland. That’s where he learned to play field hockey. Not long ago, Keeling’s family moved to Southampton, New York. Keeling hoped to continue playing the sport he loves.
But there was one problem: There were no boys’ teams in Southampton. Field hockey is played by both boys and girls in many other countries. In the U.S., however, it’s traditionally an all-female sport. For Keeling to continue playing field hockey, he had to join the girls’ team at his new school.Keeling had to first get permission from the county’s mixed-competition committee.
The committee screens players who want to play on teams of the opposite gender at public schools. In the past, the committee had allowed girls to play football and other traditionally male sports. Keeling was the first boy to ask to play on a girls’ team. The committee allowed Keeling to try out for the team. The group added that Keeling would have to get permission before the start of each season.Keeling quickly became one of the league’s top players.
He earned all-conference honors. By spring 2012, Keeling was looking forward to starting a new year with the team. But then, he received some bad news: The mixed-competition committee had decided that Keeling could not play. The group said Keeling would have to be removed from the Southampton team. The committee ruled that Keeling’s skills had improved beyond those of the girls in the league.
The group said this was unfair to the girls he played against.After the ruling, many people in the community defended Keeling. They agreed that he played very well.
However, they argued, there were better players in the league. They pointed to the fact that his skills had not earned him all-county honors. Other supporters noted that the committee judged Keeling’s skills. The group did not think about his size or strength. Supporters said the fact that the teen improved his play should not keep him from playing.
“It’s really annoying,” Keeling said after the decision. “I’m just 4-foot-8 and 82 pounds 142 centimeters and 37 kilograms. So I don’t see why I shouldn’t be allowed to play.
I don’t really care if I’m on a girls’ team or a boys’ team. I just want to play.”In May 2012, Keeling appealed the committee’s ruling. He stated his case in front of the mixed-competition committee. The committee agreed to change its ruling.
Keeling would be allowed to return to the team for one more season.”I was jumping up and down. I was so excited when I heard,” said Keeling after the change.
“I can play!”Information for this story came from AP.NEXTSupporting ResourcesVocabularyagile (adjective)able to move quickly, with skill and control Play Stopappeal (verb)to ask someone to take a second look at a case, with the hope of getting a different ruling Play Stopbriefly (adverb)for a short while Play Stopconference (noun)a league or other grouping of sports teams Play Stopfield hockey (noun)a game with a small ball that players move using long sticks Play Stopgender (noun)state of being a boy or girl, a man or a woman Play Stopsegregate (verb)to keep one person or group apart from another Play StopExtrasMapPuzzleCitationsRubric