The fifth-grade basketball team at St. John the Apostle School in Clark, New Jersey, was recently notified by the Catholic Youth Organization league that girls wouldn’t be allowed to play on the team anymore.
The young athletes were then asked to make a very difficult decision: Give up the rest of the season or play without the girls.
They chose the former.
The team, made up on nine boys and two girls, was informed that playing as a coed team violated rules of the league. Apparently, the league rules clearly state that teams should comprise boys or girls only, but since there were not enough girls interested in the sport, St. John’s formed a coed team.
The school’s athletic director Jack Cajuste said he made a mistake by allowing the mixed team to come into existence in the first place.
What came next was absolutely surprising, and indeed a heart-warming gesture of solidarity, when the boys decided to forfeit the remainder of the season, instead of playing without their female teammates.
"It's like they almost don't recognize me as female," Kayla Martel said of her friends. "It's like I'm part of them, just as they're part of me, and they don't want to break that bond, just like I don't want to break this bond."
"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?" All 11 players raised their hand.
"Unity!” the boys and girls shouted as they announced their decision of forfeiting the season.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters