Boy’s NY hockey ban overturned

A 13-year-old New York boy who played hockey growing up in Ireland can keep playing on the girls team at his school, at least for one more season.

The decision at an appeals hearing yesterday reverses earlier rulings that claimed Keeling Pilaro’s skills as a hockey player, which he developed playing for Pembroke Wanderers in Dublin, had developed to a level superior to those of girls.

“I was jumping up and down; I was so excited when I heard. I can play,” he said last night.

Kevin Seaman, the attorney for the committee that oversees public school athletics in Suffolk County, said panellists determined that Keeling’s continued participation on the team ultimately would not have “a significant adverse effect” on girls’ opportunity to participate in interschool competition. That was the same criteria used earlier this year when officials for the committee said Keeling’s skills had exceeded those of his female teammates and competitors.

An attorney for the family said he considered filing a federal civil rights lawsuit had the ruling not gone in his client’s favour.

The US is one of the few countries in the world where boys do not regularly play field hockey.

Chris Clements, the national men’s coach for USA Field Hockey, said last week that he thought the young teenager should be permitted to continue playing.

Keeling is the grandson of Tony Pilaro, who moved his family to Ireland where he was a big investor with Irish American billionaire Chuck Feeney in Duty Free shops. Up until two years ago, Keeling played with the Pembroke Wanderers junior boys team.


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