JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The North Carolina High School Athletic Association requires students to pass a certain number of courses to participate in sports. That is creating complications for students who take advanced courses.
Caitlynn Guarino at Richlands High School was told she didn’t meet the credit requirement to play soccer because her Advance Placement credits didn’t count until the end of the year. She and her mother said filing appeals didn’t help their situation. A petition was created that has nearly 5,000 signatures.
Guarino is just one student affected by this rule, but there are many more throughout the state.
“It does me no good to put down anybody who made a mistake in this process. But I would just like to make it so it doesn’t happen again,” said another student impacted by the NCHSAA rule, Madison Small.
Small is a Southwest Onslow High School soccer player and captain of the team. Although she took a course through the community college, those credits don’t count.
“One of the classes she was taking that was recommended by her guidance counselor was not considered a high school credit, which reduced her course load to two courses, making her ineligible,” said Matthew Small, her father.
They are working with Onslow County Schools to file appeals. Both the Guarinos and Smalls added that the school system has been supportive throughout the process.
State representatives are hoping to make a change and get them back on the field. An amendment to Senate Bill 52 will hope to add another step to the appeals process for hardship cases.
“We hope to have results, you know, nobody should be penalized. You know for being a good student, and meeting what I would say appropriate requirements to play athletic sports,” said NC Sen. Michael Lazzara of District 6, who introduced the change.
Lazzara added that a lot of schools have changed since the adoption of the original set of rules, and thinks modernization was needed. He said he also hopes to educate administrators about the credit requirements for school athletics in the future.
The amendment was already passed in the North Carolina Senate 46-2. NC Rep. Phil Shepard of District 15 carried on the discussion in the House.
“We have worked out with the superintendent’s office is another layer of appeal in this situation, which will allow Superintendent Catherine Truitt to also rule on this,” said Shepard, who was speaking about it in a committee meeting.
With this adjustment, the superintendent would also have the authority to go back and change previous rulings.
“We’re very excited with the current bill and hope that we get to see, you know, Caitlynn, and other student-athletes get their senior seasons back,” added Maureen Guarino, Caitlynn’s mother.
The bill will soon be voted on in the NC House, before heading to Governor Roy Cooper’s desk to sign it into law.
Ironically, Richlands and Southwest Onslow will play each other in girls’ soccer on Thursday. It’s anticipated both Guarino and Small will be recognized before the start of the game.