CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — Despite being disqualified over the weekend for having a girl on its roster, a young Charlottesville travel basketball team celebrated the exemplary sportsmanship of its players at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia on Wednesday.
“We’re family,” said one young player of his 10 and 11-year-old teammates. Parents, coaches and players were devastated by the news that the Charlottesville Cavaliers would be barred from the semi-final round of the National Travel Basketball Association Tournament in Myrtle Beach.
“These kids worked so hard to get there, and just to sit and watch them walk around in tears — there’s nothing you can do for them,” said mom Tiffany Childress.
The disqualification stems from a rule adopted this year that players must play with their gender. Coaches and parents say no one notified them about the change.
Despite being kicked off the court, the Cavaliers still showed up to their game, dressed in full uniform — pink uniform, no less, in support of their team mate. The team cheered on the other age divisions from their home town.
“The dignity and class these kids showed at 11 and 10 deserves a, ‘Hey, we’re proud of you, and you played like champions, no matter what happened in the tournament,’” said Llizelle Dugger, a mom.
Childress said the players took the bad news better than their own parents. But the young Cavaliers say sportsmanship is something they’ve learned from each other. With a stellar season and its bitter end now behind them, they are already talking about a victory at next year’s tournament.
“We’re gonna come back harder,” said one player. “We’re gonna make sure we win this one.”
In a statement, the National Travel Basketball Association said sanctioning bodies must clearly communicate their rules to participating teams. To keep this from happening in the future, the NTBA says it is looking over its policies and tournament intake procedures.
Stay with 8News for more on this developing story.