Jenson Daniel, desperate to compete on the volleyball court, has suffered another loss off it.
Daniel, a Yonkers High School senior who had sought to overturn a ruling preventing him from playing on the girls varsity volleyball team, has had his appeal denied by Section 1’s governing body.
“It’s unfair,” Daniel said.
Daniel, 17, revealed the outcome of the appeal early Tuesday in a text message. Later in the day, he said the decision actually was rendered by Section 1 officials Thursday, just before the team’s match against Pelham.
“It didn’t really sink in,” Daniel said.
“Coach (Alicia) Murray pulled me aside to tell me, then she told the team. She wanted me to hear it from her, not anyone else. This way, no rumors would start going around,” he said.
Daniel and the district are in the process of a second appeal. Daniel said lawyers have been contacted regarding the matter.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Yonkers athletic director Jim Rose, whose department received Section 1’s ruling, saying, in part, the appeal upheld the section’s decision. “Jenson’s been a part of this team for a year now, and I’d love to see him play.”
The school declined to release a copy of the section’s report, but Rose said it sends a message to future male athletes looking to play on a girls varsity team.
“You have to go through a process,” he said. “Some are approved, some aren’t.”
Daniel played in the team’s final five matches last season, helping the Bulldogs to a 14-3 overall record and an appearance in the Section 1 Class A quarterfinals.
To play last year, Daniel got special clearance from the state, and he filled out a mountain of paperwork that was expected to take half a year to complete. Daniel finished it in a month.
Daniel, who is 5-foot-11 and weighs 145 pounds, was denied the chance to compete by section officials after his physical exam this year because he was deemed too strong to keep playing with the girls.
“Strength shouldn’t be a factor,” Daniel said. “There’s a girl taller than me on (Yonkers), and we’re about equal strength,” he said, referring to 6-foot-1 senior Kristella Morina.
“I was always told by coaches, ‘Do your best, always,’ ” Daniel said. “I could’ve lied and held back (during the physical), but I didn’t.”
Under Title IX, if a sport does not have separate teams for both genders, both sexes must be allowed to try out for the same team.
In more traditional circumstances, it gives girls the chance to play football or hockey.
However, there have been a handful of boys through the years who have pressed Section 1 to compete in field hockey — most recently senior Dynell Clement, who is in his second year as a member of Clarkstown North’s team.
Daniel, meanwhile, just wants to play volleyball.
“Playing with the girls doesn’t matter to me,” Daniel said. “I wish there was a boys team (at Yonkers); I even tried forming a city team, but Yonkers doesn’t have a lot of money for a team.”
Daniel maintains that his addition to the team is not what caused its success.
“I played in five matches last year, and only one of them was a league match,” he said. “I’m not the one who got (Yonkers) to sectionals.”
In Daniel’s five matches, the Bulldogs went 3-2, including their playoff loss.