Co-ed field hockey team defends against pushback from other schools


Sophomore Shaoquan “Jerome” Chen shields the ball from an opponent in the varsity field hockey game against King on October 13. The Panthers lost the game 4-0 in their first competition in over three weeks. This marked the team’s fourth game ever being co-ed.

Rowan McWhinnie, Lead Opinion Editor

For the first time in school history, the varsity field hockey team has boys on their roster. Although co-educational field hockey is generally accepted within the sport and is common in college, many local high schools are less accustomed to this change and have decided not to compete against a co-ed team.
Masters’s team of 16 girls and two boys were scheduled to play a home game against Riverdale Country Day School on Friday, Oct. 1. However, Riverdale refused to play, citing the issue of boys being on the team. The varsity team was given the option to continue and play without the boys on the field but the team collectively decided against it.
Pinqi Jiao, also known as Bob, is one of the two boys playing on the field hockey team, and said how touched and proud he was of his team after hearing their decision.
“They can play, but because of us, they don’t,” said Jiao.
Of the situation, Coach Alezis Di Domenico said, “they do not want to compete against boys – they’ve made that clear. They think it’s dangerous…..We, as a team, decided that we’re one team. And without those two members, we’re not a full team. So, we’re going to play as a full team or we’re not going to play at all.”
Before the 2021-2022 school year had begun, the boys had received clearance from the Head Athletic Director Logan Condon, to play on the team.
“If there is not a paired sport, like baseball and softball, boys and girls are allowed to play on the same team, they just have to go through a clearance process,” said Condon. This process entails a physical fitness test, a skill level test, and more. The reason the boys are playing on the girls team is because field hockey is not a paired sport, meaning Masters does not have a boys field hockey team.
Condon stated, “the NYSIAS mixed competition rules are in place to provide opportunities for all of our students to participate in interscholastic competitions without excluding from competing due to sexual identity. These opportunities are for students who participate in specific sports that do not have the male/female equivalent.”
Schools have said they are concerned for their players’ safety when it comes to competing against boys because of their genetic build. Di Domenico, though, thinks coaching is the key to playing a safe and fun game.
“I think it is okay if I play with girls. We follow the rules and don’t hurt others…..we will play schools who want us [the boys] to play,” said Jiao.
An email was sent out by Condon to all the schools Masters’ field hockey team is scheduled to play in the upcoming weeks. All the Fairchester Athletic Association schools (FAA) have replied and continue to keep their games scheduled regardless whether or not the boys play. However, the Ivy League schools, including Riverdale and Horace Mann, have yet to reply.
Tower reporters have reached out to the Athletic Directors of the Riverdale Country School and Horace Mann but have yet to receive a reply. A player on the Horace Mann field hockey team, who asked to remain anonymous, stated that their Head of School, Dr. Thomas M. Kelly, met with the team and said it, “wasn’t their choice” to play against boys. Every other player on the Horace Mann team has refused to comment and was not comfortable with an interview.