Controversial male field hockey player Keeling Pilaro gets season started in New York

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

In late April, then 13-year-old Keeling Pilaro gained national attention for being banned from competing in the sport he loves -- field hockey -- simply because he was too good. Three and a half months later, ban overturned, Pilaro returned to a high school field at last, joining up with his Southampton (N.Y.) High teammates in a 5-0 victory against area rival Walt Whitman (N.Y.) High.

Southampton male field hockey star Keeling Pilaro — 1010 WINS
Southampton male field hockey star Keeling Pilaro — 1010 WINS

As documented by Newsday, CBS News and the Associated Press, among other sources, Pilaro didn't score during his squad's one-sided, season-opening victory. Still, the 4-foot-8 dynamo said that it was an enormous relief to finally be back playing the sport that he grew up with ... and intends to keep competing in as long as he can.

Of course, how long Pilaro will be allowed to remain on the pitch remains very much a matter for debate. When Pilaro was cleared to take part in the 2012 varsity season by an area athletics committee, he was not granted blanket eligibility for the remainder of his high school career. Rather, the male athlete was told he could compete as a freshman, after which his eligibility would be re-examined.

It's far too early to even guess what an eligibility re-examination will find.

Yet for now, that isn't Pilaro's concern. Rather, he's more focused on helping Southampton notch as many wins as it can, all while competing alongside girls he can now call his friends.

"It's a great feeling, a big relief, to be playing again and have things back to normal," Pilaro told Newsday.

It goes without saying that seeing Pilaro on the field again is a relief for his coaches, parents and friends, too.

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