Lakewood OH
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Players pay a big price for adults’ mistakes

It’s Friday afternoon, and it’s STILL snowing like cats and dogs outside. Pretty much everything – aside from the OHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Canton – has been cancelled.

So, what’s a writer to do?

Well, write.

There’s lots to talk about lately, with the NFL Scouting Combine going on in Indianapolis, Major League spring training and the recent NBA trades. It’s a big time in collegiate sports, especially with the basketball season steaming toward the NCAA tournament. And it’s post-season time for our area high school teams as well.

By the way, welcome to Cleveland, Baron Davis.

But I wanted to take a minute of your time to address the recent suspension of the Lake Ridge Academy girls basketball team. This past week, the OHSAA issued sanctions against the program, including an immediate two-year ban from tournament play.

So the state-ranked team from neighboring North Ridgeville is now sitting on the sidelines, having to forfeit its sectional championship win over Cleveland Max Hayes.

I’m not the only one who saw this one coming.

Before last school year ended, rumors were flying amongst area coaches that several players from the soon-to-be-closed Regina High School were transferring to Lake Ridge. The other part of that rumor was that Pat Diulus, the team’s head coach, would be taking over the program.

Diulus did not come over with his players, but the players did enroll at Lake Ridge. Many Cleveland area coaches had seen this act before, including yours truly. During my years as a high school basketball coach, I had seen Diulus move from Trinity High School to Regina, taking several players with him at that time.

To be honest, everyone thought that was a bit fishy at the time, but nothing ever happened. Allegations of recruiting and the appearance of out-of-state players on the roster – both at Trinity and Regina – were talked about in coaching circles. Well, my teams never had to play them, so I didn’t take it to heart.

This time, however, I feel a little sad. This time it was a bit more personal.

Leaving names out of it, let’s just say I know a young lady on the Lake Ridge team. I knew her as a promising young player at the junior high level, and always thought highly of her. Over the years, she found her way to Lake Ridge. She remained on the team this year, even with the influx of eight former Regina players.

Even though I thought something was amiss at Lake Ridge, I was happy for her, because she finally got to play on a winning team. As a senior, it was her last chance at the high school level. Now those dreams of a championship season are gone, not because of kids behaving badly, but because of a handful of adults who, according to the OHSAA, don’t know the rules.

The published reports this week said that the penalties were a result of four violations of two OHSAA bylaws. Those bylaws address administrative responsibility, according to the reports. This will have long-range ramifications as well, with the program being put on probation for five years on top of the two-year suspension. A $2,500 fine has also been levied against the school.

This is something, quite frankly, that didn’t need to happen. I don’t know what drives adults to put kids in jeopardy like this, but it happens. It has happened before, and it just happened again at Lake Ridge.

And it cost a number of young ladies dearly.

It’s a shame.

 

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