Communication gap leads to volleyball players being unable to compete in W.Va. state tourney

November 22, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Parent Ken Semler voices his concerns to the Berkeley County Board of Education on Monday night about how 10 girls from Musselman and Hedgesville high schools were told they were ineligible to play in the state tournament because of an amendment to the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission handbook.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said Monday that administrators failed to communicate a rule change that resulted in the removal of 10 high school girl volleyball players from their teams just before the state tournament.

About 30 parents and team members voiced their anger and frustrations to the school board in remarks and letters, and at Monday’s school board meeting.

At issue are the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission handbook’s rules banning high school team members from playing on nonschool teams during the season.
The contract signed by student athletes in the beginning of the school year stated that “a student may not play or practice on a nonschool volleyball team while a member of the school team.” There were no references to tryouts in the contracts signed in June, according to Ken Semler, spokesman for the parents at the meeting.

The 10 students from Musselman and Hedgesville high schools tried out for a club junior Olympic volleyball program at Shepherd University on Nov. 6.

Semler said the WVSSAC amended the rule to ban tryouts on nonschool teams on Aug. 26. Parents and students learned of the amendment Nov. 8, the same day the students were told that they were ineligible to play in the tournaments because they violated the WVSSAC’s dual-participation rule.

Gary Ray, WVSSAC executive director in Parkersburg, W.Va., said Monday that the commission is made up of principals and athletic directors in 125 high schools across the state.

Donald Dellinger, Berkeley County assistant superintendent, and Ron Allen, athletic director at Hedgesville High School, are members of the commission.

“The bottom line,” Arvon said before the meeting, “is I don’t believe the rules were communicated correctly to the parents. We have to make sure we get the message out.”

Dellinger said he and another administrator tried Nov. 8 with no success to appeal to the WVSSAC to exempt the two Berkeley County high schools so the teams could play in the tournament.

Semler blamed administrators for not telling the students about the no-tryout-rule change until Nov. 8, two days after they went to the tryouts and two days before the tournament.

“The information was withheld from us,” Semler told the board. “The students did nothing wrong.”

He said the WVSSAC rules said nothing about tryouts until Aug. 26.

“It was a ... failure at the administrative level,” Semler said. “The students became scapegoats for the administrators.”

He said after the meeting that the best the parents and students can hope for now is that “it will be fixed for next year. The damage is done.”


Playing without the ineligible students, Hedgesville was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the state Class AAA tournament in Charleston, W.Va.

Musselman, which was trying to win its second straight state Class AAA title, reached the championship match but was defeated by Spring Valley.

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