Deaf student-athlete may file waiver to play high school sports
A deaf student-athlete at Hackensack High School, held back a couple of years in grammar school due to his impairment, is currently banned from playing sports during his senior year, but he may fight the system.
Any student who turns 19 years old before Sept. 1 of their senior year is deemed ineligible by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Dante Washington crossed that threshold in early July, but still wants to participate in school athletics such as baseball.
According to Larry White, assistant director of the NJSIAA, the age rule is in place so no players get an unfair advantage.
"We don't want 19-year-olds competing against possible 14-year-old freshmen," White said.
Washington was forced to repeat second and third grade when he transferred to a special services school at a young age.
His family, though, has hinted at applying for a waiver that would allow the young man to play out his senior year.
As of Tuesday afternoon, that waiver application had not been filed with the NJSIAA.
White said the documentation must be submitted by the end of the month in preparation for the eligibility committee's Aug. 13 meeting.
"We have a committee made up of (athletic directors), principals, superintendents that read the material that's supplied to us," White said. "If they grant the waiver, the student-athlete's eligible immediately. If they don't, then the school or the parent can appeal to another committee where we have face-to-face hearings."
The association, according to White, handles more than 100 waiver applications per year associated with age, credit or semester restrictions.
While he can't speak for the eligibility committee, White insisted that if Washington were to apply for a waiver, the application "has a great chance of being approved."