Keeling Pilaro, a 13-year-old Long Island boy who was raised in Ireland, will be removed from the varsity girls field-hockey team he plays for being “too dominant” a player. Pilaro, is fighting the removal from the team in court and hopes to return for next season.
Fox reports that Pilaro is being removed from the Southampton High School varsity girls field hockey team he plays with in accordance with Section 11 in Southampton’s legislation. Section 11 rules that players that are found to be “too dominant” should be removed from the team they’re playing on.
Ed Cinelli, executive director for Section 11 said, "As a sport, it's a girls sport. When a boy plays, it leads the way for other male players to come in and take over."
“[Keeling is] having a significant adverse effect on some of his opposing female players," Cinnelli claimed according to MyFoxNY. "The rules state he would be allowed to play if he wasn't the dominant player."
While clearly talented, 13 year old Pilaro stands at only 4’8 and weighs 82 pounds. Keeling himself has said that he sees himself as no better or no worse than any of his teammates, which he has described as becoming like a “family” to him.
Pilaro’s grandfather Tony Pilaro moved his family to Ireland. He was a major investor with Irish American billionaire Chuck Feeney in Duty Free Shops.
Keeling’s father Andrew added that he has never heard of any negative or adverse comments coming from Keeling’s teammates or opponents.
"As a dad, I'm trying to be as supportive as possible to my son," Andrew Pilaro said. "I'm trying to protect him a little bit from what's going on."
Keeling first started playing field hockey while living in Ireland, where it is both a popular men’s and women’s sport. Back in the US, however, the sport is typically reserved for girls.
The 13 year old’s removal from the varsity team has led to conversation as to whether or not the actions taken are in compliance with federal law Title IX, which that states both men and women should have an opportunity to play a sport if the school offers it to the opposite sex,
Dana Edell, the executive director for girls activist organization SPARK, said "If he's not allowed to try out for the team, that opens up the door for all kinds of discrimination.” She went on to say that young Pilaro should be permitted to at least try out for the team, or be granted the option to start a boys’ field hockey team at the school. If not, then the girls team should be disbanded.
"It's the coaches responsibility to make sure the players are safe," added Edell. "And a boy should not be penalized because he's good."
Keeling and his parents have lost their initial appeal, but are heading to court again next month to fight the case again.
"I do hope they let me play," said Keeling.