WEST CALDWELL, NJ — During public comment at Tuesday’s West Caldwell Township Council meeting, a group of 7th grade girls and their parents expressed frustration with the recreation department.

The students reported that after they tried out for what was advertised as a traveling basketball team for 7th and 8th grade girls, the “7th graders had been eliminated altogether” a day before the rosters were to be posted.

Parent Molly Miller reported that recreation director Gabe DiMasi “refused to meet with them,” and she confirmed that position by reading an email exchange between herself and DiMasi.

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Michael Barnett commented the removal of these students was shortsighted and that eliminating the opportunity for the 7th graders to play basketball would affect the feeder program that leads to the high school teams.

Both parents also spoke about being put in the difficult position of having to tell these girls, who had been playing basketball together for years, that they would not have an opportunity to play this season.

“I’m upset about having the 7th grade girls being singled out and excluded,” said 7th grader Nicky Higgins. “I don’t want to play on an out-of-town team; I want to represent West Caldwell.”

Mayor Joseph Tempesta thanked the group for bringing this to his attention. He stated that securing a volunteer coach “has to be one of the hardest things to do,” but guaranteed that a meeting would be held as soon as possible.

“We will get to the bottom of this,” he said. “I apologize. I do not like the way that this was handled.”

To read more about this meet, click HERE.

The next township council meeting will be held on Dec. 10.