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Middle school holds assembly in boy's honor

PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. -- A middle school honor student who was
humiliated when his basketball coach gave him a "Crybaby Award"
last month was feted at a school assembly Friday with applause from
his peers and an apology from the coach.

Ousted Pleasantville Middle School coach James Guillen presented
Terrence Philo Jr. with a certificate, a trophy and the first-ever
Terrence Philo Jr. Award.

"I would like to extend a special apology to the Terrence Philo
family," Guillen told the boy in front of about 250 of his
cheering classmates. He blamed his error last month on "my lack of
experience as a coach and as a teacher."

St. Joseph's basketball coach Phil Martelli also was on hand to
see the boy honored.

Philo, an eighth-grade honor student, was a guard on the team,
which went 12-3 and won its division championship.

Guillen, a teacher in his first year as coach, had told him to
be sure to attend the team's April 24 banquet to accept an award.
But when he showed up, Guillen gave him a Crybaby Award trophy for
always pleading to get into games.

The boy's family was irate, and Guillen was removed as coach,
suspended from his teaching job for five days and lost a scheduled
pay raise.

The boy's determination to participate was the impetus behind
the new award, which will go each year to a student who
demonstrates dedication and team spirit. Philo said he was pleased.

"How they did it this way, it's better," he said.

Martelli, who guided the Hawks to a surprising run at the
national championship this past season, said the assembly would
help everyone involved learn from what happened.

"It's an unfortunate situation that I think has ended in a
positive vein," he said.