Articles

Yorktown Athlete Leading the Charge to “Play On”

Yorktown HS (IN) is sidelined with two weeks of quarantine, plus the required six practices before getting back to playing matches… but they’re calling for change.
(Photo by Kirk Green)

We’ve seen initiatives by collegiate athletes asking those in power to make changes on their behalf. College football players have begun petitions and gathered other athletes to take a stand for a change, and we’ve been able to watch the impact these groups have had.

This week, we saw it at the high school level, too, as Indiana high school senior Ellee Stinson had some time to think about actionable steps she could take while in quarantine and started a petition to “Play On.” The entire Yorktown HS (IN) volleyball team was sidelined for two weeks after coming into contact with someone with the coronavirus. The Tigers have already had to forego their first two matches while in quarantine.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) has a rule that makes it so, even after coming out of quarantine, the Yorktown athletes will have to practice six times before competing in a match. Between quarantine and the six-practice rule, that could force a team out of three or four weeks of the already-shortened 10-week high school season.

“I think the IHSAA and the schools are doing their best,” said Stinson. “I hope that no athlete, in general, would have to go through being quarantined, but I don’t think any athlete should sit out an extra week.”

Rule 9-14: Practice Attendance Required to Participate in a Contest says that if a student-athlete misses more than 10 consecutive practices, she must “attend and actively participate” in six practices (on separate days) before returning to competition.

“The rule was put in place originally to protect student-athletes,” said Yorktown coach Stephanie Bloom. “If an athlete was out for an extended period of time due to an injury or illness, this rule required them to get in x-amount of practice days to be eligible to play so they didn’t get hurt.”

Bloom understands the rule’s intention out of the true possibility of an athlete being injured if she jumped back in the game too quickly. However, these are healthy athletes who are continuing to work out and stay active while being forced into quarantine outside of their control.

“During our quarantine, I feel like our team has used it in our favor. We’ve been staying really positive, calling in and checking in, and that’s been really great to see. I’ve learned how to respond in a more positive manner. I wasn’t too happy about the six-practice rule, but I’ve been trying to get my point across in the most respectful way possible.

“We’ve grown a lot… it’s been kind of a wild ride!”

Bloom added, “Let me say how proud I am of Ellee for being strong and courageous enough to use her voice, while also being respectful and positive in her delivery.”

***

Stinson published her “Play On” petition asking athletes, parents, and supporters of Indiana high school athletics to sign in favor of the modification of the IHSAA rules that would allow asymptomatic student-athletes to return to play faster than Rule 9-14 states.

“I contacted the Athletic Director and wrote a letter,” said Stinson. “He tried to present the idea of doing virtual practices to get back sooner, but the IHSAA shut that down. If they can’t do it, why can’t I get the athletes involved?”

The state’s school board has made adjustments to allow virtual days to count as a school day, begging the question as to why this same principle doesn’t apply to sports.

Bloom added, “The argument is not to waive the rule altogether, but rather to waive the rule for those athletes who are put in quarantine due to close contact tracing but are otherwise healthy! I hope the ‘powers at be’ will at least take a hard look at some rules that have always been and see if there is a need to modify any so that the top priority remains in doing what’s best for our student-athletes.”

***

Stinson started with the petition and at the time of publishing, it has over 3,000 supporters. When it started picking up steam, she reached out to the IHSAA Executive staff members with no response yet.

She said, “Right now it’s about raising a lot of awareness because it’s not just volleyball that it affects, it’s everyone playing sports.”

Stinson, a Northwestern recruit, plays club for Munciana and has used her network to extend the message. It’s Stinson who has led the charge, but it’s every athlete that has banded together that has taken the “Play On” campaign this far.

“The team has made it their own,” said Stinson. “The coaches are behind us, but it has been driven by the athletes on the team. I spoke with Munciana and gave them a letter they can send to their ADs. It’s been getting around and I couldn’t have done it without my Munciana family.”

Want to get involved? It might not affect you now, personally, or even your state. But like everyone else, these Indiana athletes want to “Play On.”

Stinson has encouraged people to take the following actions to get involved: sign the petition; e-mail your AD and the IHSAA Executive members; call the IHSAA and let them know what you think.

GET STARTED MORE Join our Student Panel on the Innovators show  every Sunday on KRON-TV Tulane Center for Sport receives $5.5 million gift from Hertz Family Foundation Fordham University, Bronx, New York. Apply for Fordham Universitys $20,000 Deans Scholarship
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

To Top