When Janya Lilly made the boys' basketball team, Tonya Hawthorne was worried about how her 13-year-old daughter would be received by her new teammates.
"I knew she had the knowledge and the skill level to do it," Hawthorne, Lilly's mother, told Yahoo's Good News Blog. "I was really more worried about how she would be received. When I was younger, I remember the boys not wanting a girl doing what they do and especially not doing it better."
So much for that. It turns out Lilly earned co-captain status of the boys' team at Hampstead Hill Academy, a charter elementary and middle school in East Baltimore.
"They don't treat me different at all," the seventh-grader told WBAL-TV. "They treat me like one of the guys. If you want to do something, do it. Just play the game."
Which Lilly does extremely well. Taking up basketball at the age of 5, the young point guard reportedly plays AAU for the Maryland Hurricanes and became the first girl ever to make the boys' basketball team at Hampstead Hill, which currently enrolls nearly 700 students and joined the Baltimore Curriculum Project's New Schools Initiative in 2002.
"She is one of the best players on the team," Hampstead Hill coach Jason Wheatley told her local TV news station. "She's also one of the most liked people, and she's a leader."
Just as importantly, Lilly owns a 3.8 GPA, according to the WBAL-TV feature, and her mother hopes her success on the court and in the classroom at the middle school level eventually leads to her acceptance at an area private high school -- the next step on Lilly's way toward achieving a remarkable set of goals.
"I want to go to the WNBA and play professionally, be a lawyer, and do what I love to do," Lilly told WBAL-TV. A tall task. Then again, so was making the boys' basketball team.
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