No Two Ways About It Rule Limiting Athletes To One Sport At A Time A Blow To Valley Christian
A ruling by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Assoc. has made Valley Christian School’s Jason Schlafmann and several teammates something of a cause celebre.
The rule, approved in May by the WIAA representative assembly and implemented this fall, prevents athletes from competing in two sports concurrently.
Schlafmann, who last year finished third in the district B race and placed 22nd in state, and five teammates ran cross country and played soccer.
Two weeks ago they attracted interest when they learned they would have to choose between the two. They chose soccer.
“We pretty much all knew before it happened what we would choose,” said Schlafmann.
He said he likes cross country but enjoys playing soccer more. The team, despite its current 1-4 record, he added, had a chance to do well.
The decision devastated cross country coach Don Dicus.
“The ruling came out of nowhere. I had the rug pulled out from under me,” he said. “All summer long I was planning to take a road trip to state.”
Those plans are now on hold. The Valley Christian cross country team, including all but two of last year’s sophomore-oriented group, has gone from nine runners to three.
“I didn’t want to be in violation of the rule and put the soccer team in jeopardy,” said Dicus, who learned of it in a Spokesman-Review article.
WIAA assistant executive director Cindy Adsit explained that the rule limiting participation was already in place at middle schools and that based upon calls to their office was a problem area at high schools that needed to be reviewed.
“If it was good for middle schools, maybe it would be good for high schools, too,” she said. “It might open up additional sports opportunities for other kids.”
It passed with little discussion and some schools didn’t get the word.
Schlafmann ran in two invitationals before learning he couldn’t participate in two sports this fall.
“I think (the rule) is kind of silly, at least for smaller schools,” he said.
Dicus also doesn’t think the rule is fair to small schools and is considering making a proposal that would exempt B schools.
Instead of providing more sports opportunities for others, schools like Valley Christian, with an enrollment of around 100 students, are being forced to reduce the number of activities for its students.
“When B schools with 100 students and schools with 1,500 students have one-fifth of them in sports it is a different thing,” Dicus said. “Central Valley’s track team outnumbers our whole school.”
Adsit said that there were three appeals to WIAA including one that would grandfather existing athletes already involved in two sports. All were denied out of deference to the representative assembly’s decision.
“If he wanted to propose an amendment he must go through the process,” said Adsit. “There are some exceptions for small schools to meet their needs.”
Dicus, she said, would have to submit his proposal by Jan. 10, 1996, and it would be voted on next May for the following school year.
Meanwhile Dicus must make do with a team that includes returnees Mike Dahl, Matt Stormo and freshman newcomer Chad Myers.
Schlafmann - and junior cross country veterans Brian Drozdov, Stave Stager and Tim Dahl - will have to wait until next fall to compete in two sports again and maybe make a repeat trip to state.
“I think I could do better in cross country if I concentrated on one sport,” he said, “but I enjoy both and didn’t want to make the choice.”
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