Jenson Daniel is a 17-year-old senior at Yonkers (N.Y.) High, and he absolutely loves the sport of volleyball. He's quite talented, and has legitimate hopes of playing the sport in college.
In fact, Daniel loves it so much he's willing to subject himself to catcalls, angry looks and plenty of mild harassment to play as the only male member of the Yonkers girls volleyball team. There's just one problem: The state won't let him play.
As reported by the New York Daily News and a variety of other New York-area publications, Daniel, who is 17, was refused the opportunity to play for Yonkers because the New York High School Athletic League deemed he would be "too strong" to compete against girls.
It should be noted that Daniel would rather play against other boys than girls, but Yonkers doesn't field a boys volleyball team. As a result, the girls squad has embraced the senior, to the point that it insists he is still a member of the team even if the NYHSAL won't officially allow him to play.
"I didn't ask for any of this," Daniel told CBS New York. "It was just given to me. An opportunity came I went for it. Now they're taking it away, which I think is unfair."
For it's part, the entire Yonkers school system is siding with the volleyball-mad senior. Teammates and the school's athletic director have all claimed he plays an important motivational and emotional role with the team. Meanwhile, Yonkers superintendent Bernard Pierorazio has issued an even stronger rebuke against the NYHSAL, claiming that it is denying a student a right of opportunity, sending out echoes of sex-based discrimination should the NYHSAL continue to bar Daniel from competing.
"We are in the business of nurturing potential and, therefore, are committed to providing equal opportunity and access to all of our student athletes," Pierorazio said in a statement to the Daily News. "Jenson's passion for the sport underlines the importance of our position and illustrates why the District, after appropriate evaluation, supports his desire to play on the team."
There's no word on when — or even whether — the NYHSAL might reconsider its decision regarding the senior's elgibility. For now, he will continue to work with his team and plan for a future in collegiate volleyball.
"[I] just can't give up," Daniel told the media.
- Sports & Recreation