NM basketball tournament blocks 4th grade girl from playing
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (CNN) — She’s one of the best players on her fourth grade team.
It just happens to be a boys’ team.
But because she's a girl on a boys’ team, she's been barred from a huge statewide tournament.
“Dude, she flat out is a stud,” Coach Kevin Frey of Frey’s Basketball Academy told KRQE-TV.
“Why hold her back because she's a girl,” said Berry Bates’ Jaelyn’s father.
On the court, 10-year-old Jaelyn bates is a pint sized superstar.
She’s got the speed, the skill and the drive.
(Reporter): “Do you like playing with the boys?”
(Jaelyn): “Because the girls didn't really give me a competition.”
“If there's not another team that she can go to where the competition is going to be equal so that she can continue to get better, why hold her back?” Berry Bates asked.
And Jaelyn dreams big.
(Reporter): “What would that dream be?”
(Jaelyn): “To be in the NBA.”
And being a girl on a 4th grade boys’ club team hasn't been a problem until now.
Last week the organizers of the southwest salsa slam tournament said her team wouldn't be allowed to play later this month if Jaelyn suits up.
“This is the first time we've run into any of these issues,” explained Coach Frey.
According to the tournament rules, only boys are allowed to play on boys teams, period.
"They can go by any rules they determine and these are the rules that they set,” Frey said.
In an email to the team's Coach Kevin Frey, tournament organizers admitted the rule hadn't been enforced in the past but said it would be this year.
Their argument: “If you allow a 4th grade girl to play on a 4th grade boys team, how do you stop a 6'10" freshman boy from being allowed to play on a freshman girls team?”
So right now, Frey’s team has to either play without Jaelyn or not play at all.
“To me it doesn't make sense,” Coach Frey said. He and Jaelyn's parents are fighting that decision, hoping tournament organizers will bend their rules.
“She's worked hard to get where she's at and I don't think it's fair for someone else to hold her down,” Barry said.
An attorney is helping the family fight to let Jaelyn play at the tournament.
That attorney says he'll file for an injunction sometime this week.