After 17-year-old volleyball phenom Anyela Aquino led her girls’ team to a city championship in the fall, she joined the boys’ varsity team to keep honing her skills through the spring season. Despite the fact that the coach and her teammates wanted her to play with them, the New York Public School Athletic League (PSAL) blocked her from doing so. But the high school senior fought back.
Anyela began playing volleyball as a young girl in the Dominican Republic and came to the U.S. midway through eighth grade. Her transition to the new school wasn’t easy, the language barrier made it tough for her to learn and to make new friends. It was volleyball that helped her assimilate.
For the last couple of months, Anyela has been practicing with the boys’ varsity team; it wasn’t until the coach put her on the Taft Educational Campus roster for a game that the PSAL blocked it, even though state guidelines say girls are allowed to request to play on the same school’s boys’ teams. PSAL denied Anyela’s request claiming that she would be “reducing a boy’s opportunity to play on the team,” despite the fact that all of the boys who tried out made the team and positions still remained open.
“They’re supposed to encourage the students. They should be the ones to help me play. Now more than anything I want to win.”
Frustrated by the league’s dismissal, and confident that she could play with the boys, Anyela sued PSAL to get back her spot on the team.
According to Anyela’s attorney Robert Siano, this situation differs from similar cases, in that the team and coach want her to play for them, and it’s the league that’s preventing it based on her gender.
Last week her Mr. Siano filed and won a temporary restraining order prohibiting PSAL from removing Anyela’s name from the roster, and yesterday the court denied the PSAL’s attempt to have it dismissed, which means… Anyela gets her wish and is allowed to play on the team.
It’s likely Anyela will hit the court with her team sometime next week, and we can’t wait to see her crush it!
Lead photo via Instagram