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Youth's Desire to Join Classmates' Team May Alter District Rule

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Copyright 2013 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
October 3, 2013 Thursday
State Edition
METRO; Pg. B-04
519 words
Dispute may lead to rule change;
Chesterfield youth seeks to play on team out of district
TED STRONG

Justin Beavers Jr. can't play football with his schoolmates because he doesn't live near them.

His case has the county considering forcing a change in the rules, but that might not allow the first-grader to play at all.

In Chesterfield County, the most prominent youth football league features teams from athletic associations, each of which represents an elementary school's attendance area. Players are allowed to compete for athletic associations other than their home district's, but only if the home district signs off on the arrangement.

In Beavers' case, his family lives in the Ettrick Elementary School attendance district, but the boy attends O.B. Gates Elementary School, which is near both his mother's workplace and the home of his grandparents, who provide child care, the boy's father said.

Beavers plays coach-pitch baseball at Gates.

"All his friends started to play (football) this year, so he wanted to do the same," Beavers' father, Justin Beavers Sr., said.

The boy started practicing with the team while adults tried to get the waiver signed, but had to stop when the Ettrick athletic association wouldn't sign off on the arrangement, his father said.

And while Beavers' father concedes he's had some unfriendly exchanges with the official in charge of the decision, no one has ever given him a good reason for refusing to sign off, he said.

The regulation is designed to ensure that clubs have enough players to field a team and that talent isn't poached away, Beavers' father said. But, he said, Ettrick has enough players to field a team, and the flag football games his son wants to participate in don't even keep score.

Tonight, Michael Golden, Chesterfield County's director of parks and recreation, will ask a county advisory commission to decide if officials should weigh in to force a policy change.

The teams compete on county fields, and the county is able to use that to set certain conditions, such as the requirement that coaches pass background checks. So far, the county has tried to stay clear of the actual running of the leagues, though.

The question before the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission will be whether the county should require that, when a child is given clearance to attend a school outside his or her home attendance district, the child also be given a waiver to play for the school he or she actually attends.

The family has pushed for county officials to step in and force a specific waiver for their son, though that would be a departure from the county's current hands-off approach to the leagues.

Beavers' father said he'd like to see the policy changed before next year's season, but he'd really like to see a waiver, so his son can go play football.

The commission meeting is set for 7 p.m. tonight at the Community Development Building in the government complex.

Representatives of the Chesterfield Quarterback League and the Ettrick Youth Sports Association did not return calls seeking comment.

tstrong@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6861

Copyright © 2013, The Richmond Times-Dispatch and may not be republished without permission. E-mail library@timesdispatch.com

October 4, 2013

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