CLARK, N.J. (AP/CBS) — Game on.
The two girls who were kicked off of a fifth-grade boys’ Catholic youth basketball team in Clark, New Jersey were reinstated onto the St. John’s team.
The boys on the team decided not to play without the girls and were willing to forfeit their season, a story that went viral earlier in the week.
Archdiocese of Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin announced the change Wednesday.
The archdiocese had said that Catholic Youth Organization rules state that teams should be boys or girls only. However, NJ.com found that the league rules do not mention whether the teams in St. John’s division — the JV black league — can or cannot be coed.
Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said Tobin believes that the team shouldn’t have been penalized for mistakes that adults responsible for following league rules might have made.
According to Goodness, Tobin asked CYO officials to “study the current league rules regarding participation and team makeup in all age groups” and reinstated the team’s 7-3 record.
Rob Martel, coach and father of one of the girls, fought back tears when he told the team that its season was going to continue and they would be going to the playoffs.
“This is all we ever wanted,” assistant coach Keisha Martel said. “This was never about being defiant or wanting to break, bend or change rules. It was about fairness for these 10 year olds, about finishing the season the way they started — together.”
Tobin said he wanted the children to play for the reasons CYO sports were established. “To provide a source of both recreation and reaffirmation of our Christian faith,” Tobin said.