OLD TAPPAN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A 9-year-old from Bergen County is making a passionate plea to play on his town’s softball team.
The problem is he’s a boy, and the league is girls only, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported Monday.
Cayden Walsh really likes softball.
“The ball is bigger, so it’s easier to hit, easier to catch. All my friends are there,” Walsh said.
He tried baseball, but it wasn’t his thing.
“He’s tried a bunch of sports. He’s really good at chess,” said his father, Will Walsh.
“I think I’ve tried like all sports,” Cayden added.
Cayden is a triplet and his father has been coaching his two sisters’ softball team for two years.
“Every day after practice he’d say, ‘Dad, I want to play softball,'” Will said. “I looked at him and I said, ‘You gotta play baseball. That’s what baseball’s for.’ He said, ‘Why?'”
And dad didn’t know why, so in January Cayden wrote a letter to Old Tappan’s recreation commission and the Northern Valley Softball League, asking to be allowed on his sisters’ team for third- and fourth-grade girls. He wrote: “I believe we have the freedom to play softball regardless of our gender.”
“If we had an influx of boys wanting to play girls’ sports I think the girls might be nervous,” Closter recreation director Jim Oettinger said.
Closter plays in the Northern Valley League.
“If you get a bigger, stronger boy who is hitting the ball harder, then the girls could get injured,” Oettinger said.
In response to Cayden’s letter, the softball league suggested he start his own co-ed softball league next year. But his family worries that misses the whole point.
“This is about a 9-year-old boy, whether it’s my boy or another boy, a boy who really doesn’t even like sports,” Will Walsh said. “Just to get out of the house and be part of the team and play with his sisters.”
“Cayden’s in third, fourth grade. What happens when the kids get bigger and in fifth, sixth and seventh and eighth grade?” Oettinger said.
Cayden hopes the league changes its mind before the season starts in a couple weeks. But even if they don’t, he said, “I’m learning that no matter how many times you get pushed down you have to get back up and you have keep trying.”
Expect this young fella to keep swinging.