Judge rules girls can play on boys basketball teams

KENILWORTH, NJ — On Friday, Feb. 17, Judge Donald A. Kessler ruled that Sydney Phillips must be allowed to play basketball on the boys team at St. Theresa’s School in Kenilworth.

The recent reports of two girls playing on the boys team at St. John the Apostle’s School in Clark was a significant factor in the case. The Phillips’ lawyer, Susan McCrea, argued that the archdiocese should have disclosed that girls were playing on other boys teams. She said there could be other girls playing on boys teams in the Catholic Youth Organization’s league.

Kessler had previously ruled against the Phillips family, saying there wasn’t a league requirement that the girls be allowed to play. The family appealed this decision.

In late January, when Rich Donovan, of CYO athletics, found out that two girls were playing on the boys team at St. John the Apostle’s School, the girls were removed from the team and joined other girls teams. However, the boys decided not to play without the girls and the team was then disqualified.

Afterward, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, head of the Archdiocese of Newark, decided that the girls could play and finish the season. He felt this case warranted an exception to the rules.

When Rich Donovan was contacted by LocalSource for comment, no response was received prior to press time on Feb. 21.

“We will abide by the rules,” Director of Communication Jim Goodness of the Archdiocese of Newark told LocalSource over the phone on Feb. 19, Sunday.
The Phillips family was very pleased with the outcome of the ruling. Not only did their daughter get to play basketball at her school, but she and her sister will no longer have to worry about being expelled from school again. The girls were temporarily reinstated to the school on Feb. 6.

“We are very happy about the ruling,” Scott Phillips told LocalSource over the phone on Feb. 19.