Student comes before athlete

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By Tommie Kendall

When Henry County’s track team loaded the bus to head off to the Harry Greschel Christian Academy Invitational this past Saturday, nine athletes were missing due to poor grades. It definitely had an affect on the team’s performance that day, leaving them empty handed in most of the events and without enough athletes to field some relays.

Rewind 12 days, and head over to the Eminence baseball field, and you’ll see the Warriors struggling against a tough Anderson County team. After the lopsided contest, the scoreboard showed Anderson ahead 58-0, but it didn’t show that Eminence was missing a majority of its lineup due to grades. That added to the landslide for sure, which ultimately led to a state-record and an embarrassed Eminence squad.

It brings up the question: athlete-students or student-athletes? I would choose the latter, and I applaud all those that feel strong enough about what a student does in the classroom to say “you can’t play” — even if that means a disadvantage on the field or on the track.

Poor grades equals no play, equals an A+ in my book.

“The school and state policy is that two Fs and you sit out for one week or until grades are up,” Henry’s track coach Ricky Drawbaugh said. “I think that’s crazy. The track team has a rule of no Fs. My hope is that it motivates the kids to do well in school. They have to remember they are student-athletes, the student part comes first.”

Up the road at Eminence, the Warriors’ policy is simple — you get an F, you can’t play sports until it’s brought up. And that’s in every single sport.

“What we do, which is specific to us, is we say you have to be passing every class for that school year,” said Steve Frommeyer, Eminence’s principal, football coach and track coach. “It ensures that when we hit the fields with our players, every one of them are passing all of their classes.”

Personally, I know all too well the can’t-make-the-grades, can’t-play concept. I had to sit out two track meets during my sophomore year at Shelby County and, from the perspective of someone who loves to get out and compete, it was devastating to watch my teammates from the side of the track.

I quickly brought up my grades and never missed another meet due to the classroom. It proved to be just the kick in the butt I needed.

Hopefully, it’s just the kick these athletes need, too. Like Drawbaugh said, it’s student-athletes, with the student coming first.

Sometimes, athletes like myself as a sophomore, just need to be reminded of that.

Tommie Kendall can be reached at sports@hclocal.com.