The 13-year-old boy's coach called him just before last month's team banquet and told him to make sure that he attended the event because he was getting a special trophy, the boy's father said. However, the teen was not given any details about the award.
At the event, the boy watched as all of his Pleasantville Middle School teammates received trophies or certificates. He was then called up to receive his award, and a coach told the crowd that the boy was being honored because "he begged to get in the game, and all he did was whine."
The trophy had a silver figure of a baby atop a pedestal engraved with the boy's name, which was spelled incorrectly. Family members said the teen - an honor roll student - was so embarrassed that he stayed home from school on the following Monday.
Edwin Coyle, superintendent of the Atlantic County district, told The Press of Atlantic City that he would recommend that the unidentified coaches receive some type of sanction. He planned to address the matter at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.
"I was very upset and dismayed that our coaches would take an opportunity to belittle or lessen the self-esteem of our athletes," Coyle said.
The boy's father, Terence Philo, said the coach later called his son and told him he should not be upset about the award, noting that he had received similar treatment when he was young. That explanation, though, did not appease Philo, who said the award has caused his son to lose some of the passion he had for participating in team sports.
"He doesn't even want to play outside (now)," Philo said, adding that while his son may be short, he never backs down from a challenge. "I just keep telling him to stay on track. I keep him active. I just keep telling him, 'You're a good kid. Don't back down."'