NJ Girl Who Fought to Play Boys Basketball Honored Alongside Clinton - NBC Southern California
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NJ Girl Who Fought to Play Boys Basketball Honored Alongside Clinton



    Girl Who Fought to Play With Boys Honored Alongside Clinton

    Sydney Phillips celebrated with Hillary Clinton at the Ms. Foundation's Gloria Awards in New York City Wednesday.

    (Published Friday, May 5, 2017)

    After a tumultuous school year in which she lost a battle to play on the boys' basketball team, was expelled, then ultimately allowed back to school and to play with the boys, Sydney Phillips was honored for her fight alongside a woman who's had her own fair share of battles: Hillary Clinton.

    Phillips was among eight honorees at the Ms. Foundation's Gloria Awards in downtown Manhattan Wednesday night. The annual Gloria Awards, named after Ms. Foundation co-founder Gloria Steinem, pays tribute to people who "ignite policy and culture change on behalf of women and their communities nationwide."

    Phillips, who fought all year for the right to play on the boys' basketball team at St. Theresa's School in Kenilworth, was honored as "an emerging advocate for equality in education and sports." 

    The seventh grader been told at the beginning of the school year that she could not play with the boys, even though the girls team had been dropped for the season. She sued her school and the Archdiocese of Newark, asking the court to intervene.

    A judge initially ruled Phillips couldn't prove she had a legally established right to play with the boys basketball team, and then the school expelled Phillips and her sister for suing them.

    "I just want to play basketball and now I'm being expelled, it makes no sense at all," she told News 4 at the time. "I don't want to go to any other school." 

    Then in February, an appeals judge ruled that the girls should not be prevented from going to school -- and also that she should be allowed to play with the boys. In her first game with the boys, Phillips made two baskets against St. Genevieve. 

    For a 14 year old, Phillips was joining a fairly select group: former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was celebrated at the same event for her 40-plus years of public service and the way she has "inspired and ignited the power of women to join the political sphere."

    Phillips even got to memorialize the moment fittingly for a teenage girl: a selfie with Clinton.