Sammy Nickalls
August 05, 2015 2:50 pm

Soon-to-be fifth grader Kymora Johnson is a valuable team player of the all-boys travel basketball team, U-11 Charlottesville Cavs, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Unfortunately, the team was unfairly disqualified from a Myrtle Beach tournament for having Kymora on the team, just because she’s the girl. . . despite the fact that officials at the tournament were aware from the start that Kymora is a girl, and indicated that teams are allowed one girl.

“I felt kind of bummed that we got disqualified,” Kymora told Scrimmage Play. “We were really close to getting to the championship. I just felt bad for my teammates who couldn’t play and worked really hard to get to the championship.”

Kymora, pictured below, has been playing on the team since she was in kindergarten and has played in this same tournament for two years with no problem. This year, after disqualification, officials told Kymora’s mother, Jessica Thomas-Johnson, that the rules had changed. . . but no one from Kymora’s team had heard any word of this new “change.” Plus, the tournament organizers waited until after the Cavs had advanced to the semifinals to disqualify them.

“We submit all of the paperwork, the whole team checks in in full uniform, with a birth certificate,” Jessica told Scrimmage Play. “She has hot pink fingernail polish and a pink headband. She’s a girl. . . [We asked them to[ let the rest of this team play tomorrow, let’s be fair. Even if that was the rule, which is nowhere to be found. As of now, they’ve said we’re disqualified.” But the Cavs weren’t about to take this without a fight. A social media campaign, #equalityforkymora, has started in defense of Kymora, an essential part of the team. And on Sunday at 9 a.m., the time their game was supposed to start, the team showed up, dressed in full uniform in an act of silent protest. There the 10-year-olds stood, silently, together, standing up for their friend and teammate without having to say a word. Adults who wanted to stand up for Kymora showed up, too, wearing pink shirts emblazoned with the words “girls can play too” and “#TeamKymora”. The team posted pictures of the event on their Facebook page with a beautiful caption. “We are proud of our Cville Cav family,” the team wrote. “Our fifth/sixth grade [sic] team and families showed up to the game (that they were [supposed] to be playing in this morning). Everyone at this tournament knows these kids deserved to play.”

“We were in pink to once again represent Breast Cancer and also support our own Kymora Johnson,” the caption continued. “We had our own quiet protest in what we believe is not right. Everyone else cheered us on and shook the [kids’] hands. As adults we know life isn’t fair all the time but it was very touching to see these kids hold their heads high and stand up for what is right. As we say often [sic] ‘basketball is more than just a game.'”

It’s absolutely unfair that the Cavs were disqualified for literally no reason, but we are so, so happy that her team had her back. The solidarity the team communicated with their silent protest brought tears to our eyes. We stand with you, Kymora and the Cavs. Girls can play, too.

(Images via Twitter.)

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