Athletes’ eligibility comes under Re-8 board scrutiny

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Eligibility issues at Fort Lupton High School caught some the attention from Weld Re-8 School District school board member Cody LeBlanc during a board workshop Aug. 11.

LeBlanc said the district was not focusing enough on academic standards.

“We are here to educate and graduate well-rounded students,” said board member Michelle Bettger. “Participation in extracurricular activities, team sports helps. I don’t want to hinder a student. If we have to cancel games because students are ineligible, that doesn’t make us look good outside our district. We allow tutoring. Our coaches are sending athletes for help. Albert (softball coach Albert Vasquez) always puts the classroom first.”

“I agree,” LeBlanc said. "That’s part of why we need to be more strict. Families are choosing to leave the district because we aren’t putting education at the top of our priorities.”

“CHSAA (the Colorado High School Activities Association) has a lesser policy than we do,” said Jim Roedel, the district’s chief operations officer and former FLHS athletic director. “I know Rick (new FLHS athletic director Rick Jacoby) is coming to us as we get into a new league. It would be worth the effort to find out if there has been any change in the last five or six years. CHSAA’s hasn’t changed.”

“It’s something that would be interesting to look at,” Jacoby said. “There is a handbook that says what the rules are. All the kids who signed up understand the rules.”

LeBlanc suggested a running grade point average with a minimum of 2.5 for athletes to continue to play. Board member Matt Bovee suggested looking at the issue “more practically.”

“Let’s give Rick this year to give us information,” Bettger said. “It gives us an opportunity to make a good, solid choice. I’m in the building a lot. I’m willing to have that discussion.”

“I’m hearing that people are leaving the district because we don’t focus on academics,” LeBlanc said. “There are things we can’t control. There are things we can control. What I see is we aren’t valuing academics.”

“When kids are leaving to go to Erie, they are not talking about eligibility rates,” Bettger said. “They are leaving for different reasons. They may think the academics are better. They may be saying Erie allows kids to play with all Fs.”

LeBlanc said district students are not prepared for life after high school because they don’t take their education seriously.

“Look at our policy that allows students to play with six Ds and one F,” LeBlanc said. “What causes me heartache is we aren’t ensuring that our students are doing better than a D.”

Bettger said LeBlanc was “labeling” children, and she didn’t approve.

“They are not outside in the community causing havoc because he or she wants to play that sport,” Bettger said. “The classroom may not be the best learning environment.”

LeBlanc said extracurricular activities help.

“Our job is to provide an education within the standards outlined by the state of Colorado,” he said. “We are not meeting those standards.”

Superintendent Alan Kaylor suggested inviting teachers into future discussions about eligibility requirements.

“They can explain what the classroom looks like, how they arrive at the grades,” he said.

The meeting format didn’t allow for a policy change. Eligibility rules for the 2022-2023 school year are in place.

Mileage policy

There may be a change in allowable travel for FLHS athletes and others involved in extracurricular activities.

The limit is 200 miles. But the Bluedevils moved to a new athletic league this year and one of the schools is in Leadville, and another is in Steamboat Springs. It’s not likely that any athletic programs will travel to either city more than once over the next two years. League teams play a home-and-home series over the two-year cycle.

The Colorado High School Activities Association sets league alignments for most sports for two-year periods based on school enrollment. CHSAA also conducts a separate enrollment count for the schools that offer football. The enrollment ranges for that count are smaller.

“We’re looking at some long-distance travel,” Jacoby said. “We may need to change the policy. Scheduling non-conference games is tough. We might have to go into the hills, across the hills to get something. Our wrestling team has a standing tradition of going to Grand Junction.”

“We need to find out the schedules so we know what to cover year-to-year in the two-year cycle,” Kaylor said.

Fort Lupton High School, eligibility requirements, CHSAA

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