Field hockey player drops suit

Posted: September 05, 2014

A Quakertown field hockey player withdrew his federal lawsuit Wednesday and decided no longer to challenge a school ruling that bans male players, his lawyer said.

Joshua Schwarz and his mother, Steffany, filed a lawsuit in Bucks County last week against the PIAA, the Quakertown School District, and the Quakertown School District Board of Directors. The case was moved to federal court Tuesday at the PIAA's request.

On Tuesday evening, Quakertown coach Peach Draper and assistants Melinda Lepko and Jim Maiorino told the team after practice that they were resigning immediately. The three couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

The lawsuit came in response to the PIAA's rule change this summer that disqualifies field hockey teams from postseason play if they use male players during the regular season. The Quakertown School District Board of Directors ruled Aug. 14, two weeks before the start of the season, that boys would not be allowed to play field hockey.

The suit aimed to earn Schwarz an injunction that would both allow him to play and Quakertown to remain eligible for the playoffs. It did not seek monetary damages. The suit claimed that the ruling "runs afoul" of Article 1, Section 28 of the state constitution, which prohibits denial or abridgment of equality of rights because of gender.

Schwarz, a 17-year-old senior, played the last three seasons for Quakertown's varsity team. He was allowed to play this season on the junior varsity. Schwarz played one game this season but quit the team when he withdrew his lawsuit. His lawyer, Ed Angelo, said Schwarz had aspirations to play on a men's national team after high school.

"He's a fatality of this rule," said Angelo, who declined to say why the suit was dropped. "He's devoted to the game. He's a terrific young man."

Angelo said Schwarz is not the type of player the rule is aimed at. He said the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder plays with finesse and quickness. Schwarz led the team in assists last season, Angelo said, and has never received a penalty for aggressive play or injuring another player.

"He's got a reputation that if he knocks a player down, he helps them up," Angelo said. "We're not talking about a mammoth dude that's walking around like the Hulk."


mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen

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