The Florida High School Athletic Association denied the appeals of East Lake freshman volleyball players Brooke Burkett, Casey Moore, Brianna Nichols and Jess Steidl to play volleyball for the Eagles this season.
At a section appeals hearing held at the Manatee County school board office in front of parents of the freshmen four, East Lake principal Bob Poth and Eagles coach Terry Small, the FHSAA board voted by a 3-2 count to deny the appeals of all four players.
Under a new rule enacted prior to the 2009-10 athletic season, the FHSAA deemed that any athlete who takes part in nonschool athletics (AAU, club, etc.) on a team that is affiliated with any other school than the one that students attends or is zoned for followed by enrollment in that affiliated school will have to sit out for one season.
The four freshmen were held out of the lineup by East Lake prior to the Eagles match with Countryside on September 15. A week later, the four were ruled ineligible by the FHSAA.
“(The FHSAA) held a fine line on that and didn’t waver,” Poth said. “I think the parents and the girls did a fine job showing their case and being professional and trying to explain to the FHSAA board that they had gone to East Lake because they were accepted into the academy or through the open enrollment in the case of one of them.”
The parents of the four freshmen have until Thursday to again appeal the decision to the executive board, although it appears none will be forthcoming.
“There is an opportunity for an appeal to the executive board,” Poth said. “The parents would have to request that through the principal. At this time, we haven’t had any of the parents request it. I think it was very clear the sentiment of the board was that it’s a new rule and they interpreted it the way it was written…We’re going to call all the parents (Tuesday) just to make sure we’re hearing correctly what they do or don’t want to do.”
-- BRYAN BURNS