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CALUGAY THROWS FLAG AT HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Okkodo football coach expresses grave concern over high school situation

Editorial by Angel Calugay, Okkodo Bulldogs head coach

High school football has been getting the short end of the stick for two years straight since I returned to coaching.

The SY2022-23 season was pushed back to 4th quarter because the GDOE schools did not have enough equipment that were deemed safe, following a successful SY2021- 22 season. If an inventory and assessment was done immediately after the end of the 2021-22 season, the solicitation and procurement process should have been completed by Jan or latest Feb of 2022.

It was my understanding that this process was not completed until months later when the purchase orders were released, probably between May and June. There was no way that equipment would have arrived by mid-July in time for the first official day of practice. So because of late planning and late purchasing/ordering, football, a traditional 1st quarter fall sport, was pushed back to late Jan 2023.

Football ended mid-June, however football was scheduled to start in 1st quarter 2023-24, giving football athletes only between late June and early July to rest before they were to report for the scheduled mid-July 1st day of practice.

Typhoon Mawar damaged football fields in late June, however, nothing was done to fast-track the repair of goal posts and lights for all GDOE fields, to insure that practice would begin on time. At an ISA meeting in late July-early August, ISA made two mistakes: 1) They did not get a full assessment done and repair/replace time lines to set a new date for the first official day of practice for all schools; 2) They created inequity and unfair play among member schools by allowing schools to start practices when they were ready. Thus creating staggered starts.

This put Okkodo and other high schools that could not immediately start, at a disadvantage with those schools that started early. How some GDOE fields were declared safe to use (when all schools were in the same predicament as a result of Mawar), while other GDOE schools like Okkodo, Southern, Sanchez and Tiyan were deemed unsafe, is beyond me. Assessments for safety requirements/determination should have been conducted by a qualified team headed by the GDOE Safety Officer.

Violation of Title 9

This staggered start violated Title 9 compliance under the Playing Fair guidelines and put Okkodo and the other schools 8 weeks behind the non-DOE school FD (who began early July before the 1st official day), 4 weeks behind GW, and 3 weeks behind JFK. This poor ill-advised decision caused a big disparity between participating schools. It seems that ISA’s decision to make sure all schools get 30 days of practice was not true in the case of Okkodo who started Sept 1. Now Okkodo is forced to play Sept. 29 which leaves the physical conditioning and safety of Okkodo student-athletes, in question.

To add to this unfairness, it seems that ISA is encouraging schools to forfeit, by making another ill-advised rule change to allow 2 forfeits, when by original rule, forfeits are not allowed/condoned and dealt with as a serious matter that is not to go without an investigation/inquiry. Even with football’s 25-player minimum rule where a school has no alternative (because of safety concerns) but to forfeit, is supposed to be scrutinized by the governing body.

As a result of these uneducated and ill-advised decisions, ISA is punishing student-athletes because of a natural disaster that damaged the island’s sports facilities causing delays not under control of the stakeholders. In addition, this need to start as soon as possible mentality has not given Okkodo, Sanchez and Tiyan enough time to get their programs going. As a result, Sanchez and Tiyan have been forced to drop out of the league and Okkodo is playing catch-up. I don’t understand this logic particularly when the proposed Aug 11 (8-team) schedule put the season finale in late November, when the whole month of December is still left for 2nd quarter sports.

With a 6-team schedule, the season finale will now end November 18.

This shortened and hurried season is another example of ISA’s discriminating practices against football and its student-athletes, which have been going on for years. For years, ISA has reduced the league schedules to a one-round format (with a no-guarantee playoff round) when other sports have been doing double round regular seasons with pre- and post-season tournaments. The other discriminating fact is that football does not have a JV league while other sports have had a JV league for years.

The Playing Fair acronym/guidelines of Title 9 mentioned above, mandate equity practices/governance to insure that all member schools are on the same level and not violating any rules.

Last year at the coaches meeting, I brought up that the proposed schedule disregards reciprocity of home and away games and there was no equity in the scheduling of Friday and Saturday games. So as coaches, we worked out the reciprocity requirement, however, I was given the task to equalize the Friday/Saturday allotments.

This never materialized because the football commissioner Boudreau apparently failed to advise ISA of what has been agreed by coaches. This year the proposed 8-25 schedule again, needs fixing on these two equity considerations regarding scheduling. The other suggestion that us football coaches made for all sports, is to have the coaches meeting conducted prior to the first official practice day for each sport, so that game officiating rules and governance changes/additions would be disseminated to the athletes early, in preparation for the upcoming league.

The other problem with ISA is their negligence in the enforcement of its rules, regulations, and by-laws, the guidelines and competition rules of the National Federation of High Schools. There are non-GDOE schools that have been allowed to compete in GDOE/ISA leagues, that have violated the recruiting rule by offering GDOE athletes scholarships and have violated other rules such as practices and competition rules.

These offenses have never been enforced by ISA especially since its inception, where two quarterbacks from two different GDOE schools, have been recruited in the past two years.

Call for Athletic Administrator

Lastly, among other problems associated with ISA, is that GDOE needs a qualified/certified District Athletic Administrator that oversees the largest co-curricular activities program and its governing body ISA. The majority of problems in the past years, like what is happening now with GDOE, is the lack of qualified/certified staff in key positions, to consult and advise the Principals, Deputies and Superintendent on matters outside their area of educational certification, expertise, and knowledge.

The District Athletic Administrator certainly falls in this category especially with regards to Title 9 compliance mandates/procedures and local interscholastic activities governance, and the oversight authority of school athletic directors/coaches where certification is lacking. This reduces the risks and liabilities associated with a district’s Interscholastic Sports Activities.

There is no way that the ISA Director and/or a higher up official can oversee both the district level position and a school level position at the same time. The workload and demands of a District Athletic Administration and the workload and demands of a school level Athletic Administrator are too great for one person. I am sure that the Superintendent and Policy Board will not put the fate of the student-athletes, the accountability and responsibility on one person or position. There is too much at stake, especially liability and the preservation of federal funding with regards to Title 9.

Calugay is also a Certified Athletic Administrator. The Bulldogs open their season against the GW Geckos Friday night.

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QUICK HITS

Three graduating ruggers have signed Division I letters to play college rugby stateside.
Saige Calvo from Okkodo heads to Mount St. Mary’s
Mia Topasna from Academy heads to Lindenwood
Tanner Costa from FD heads to Iowa Central
—————————————–
Bailey Concepcion makes it to the Seattle Seahawks dance team for the 2nd straight year.

Congratulations @seadancer_bailey

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