Ruling: Boy can play on girls' field hockey team

(CBS News) Updated: An athletics committee determined Tuesday that a 13-year-old boy, Keeling Pilaro, can keep playing on the girls' varsity team at Southampton High School, at least for one more season.

For two years, Keeling Pilaro played without a problem.

But controversy began when he was kicked out.

Field hockey is a rough-and-tumble sport, played with no pads or helmets -- just shin guards and a stick.

And for as long as the 14-year-old can remember, the game has been his passion.

"I just love playing, because it's just so much fun," he says.

Pilaro was born in the U.S. but raised in Dublin, Ireland, where the sport is widely popular.

But when he returned to New York two years ago, he found out that boys don't play field hockey in the U.S. for the most part - girls do.

Did that ever make Pilaro want to stop playing?

"Not at all," he says.

In order to play on a girls' team, Pilaro had to get special permission from Section XI, the group that regulates high school sports on Long Island.

And even when he was told he had to wear a skirt like the rest of his teammates, he didn't think twice.

N.Y. boy kicked off girls' field hockey team for "superior play"

Was he ever picked on?

"My friends will make jokes about it," Pilaro says. "But, like, they're not mean jokes. They're, like, sarcastic, funny jokes. I laugh along."

Does he care?

"Nope. As long as I'm playing."

Last season, Pilaro was good enough to make the varsity squad -- as an eighth grader.

He's only 4-foot-8 and barely over 80 pounds, yet went head-to-head with girls who towered over him.

But what Pilaro lacks in physical heft, he makes up for with heart.

CBS News correspondent Terrell Brown went one-on-one with Keeling Pilaro in field hockey. To see how Terrell fared, click on this video:

It's that commitment to the sport that quickly won the respect of coaches, teammates and opponents alike. It seemed Pilaro had found a fit.

Until one day, this past March, he was told he couldn't play anymore.

"I just couldn't believe it that -- like, I thought it was a dream and that they would let me play," Pilaro says.

Even though Pilaro's presence on the girls' team was never controversial, Section XI officials -- the same committee that allowed him to play in the first place -- decided to kick him out.

The group believes that Pilaro's "stick play" and "advanced field hockey skills" had "adversely affected the opportunity of females" to play the sport.

Simply put, he got too good.

  • Terrell Brown

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