New Castle News Opinion

A curious decision made by administrators at Wilmington High School last week has left us shaking our heads.

An administrative regulation, which appeared to have been filed away and forgotten after it was created 21/2 years ago, resurfaced last week just in time to keep the Wilmington girls basketball team out of the postseason.

'We're just all really disappointed'

Three games before the Lady Greyhounds finished the season at 8-14 and were gearing up for the District 10 postseason, athletic director Brandy Sanford told third-year coach Rick Holzworth that he was required to sign paperwork to opt his team out because of its losing record. Holzworth refused, first talking to his team members to confirm that they welcomed the extra practices and a trip to a playoff game, for which he received a unanimous positive response.

Holzworth then contacted Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Matty, who said that while he was not completely familiar with the policy, instituted two months after he was hired in 2016, he would check into it. A day later, Matty told Holzworth that the opt-out decision had been made by administrators. Despite his continued pleas of protest, Holzworth, a veteran of 40 years of coaching, was given no say in the decision — although the policy states that should participation be denied, the coach would be given a chance to appeal. Because the decision was made a day before the opt-out deadline, Holzworth did not get that opportunity.

Last year, a Wilmington girls team with an almost-identical record went to the playoffs with no mention of said policy. A look at the policy obtained through Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know law reveals much wiggle room to allow this to happen.

According to both Holzworth and players on the team, this was not a group that had given up in any way.

With no seniors, it was a team going through growing pains with freshmen, sophomores and juniors making major contributions while taking on both Class AA and AAA teams within their region during the regular season. 

It has been many years since a Wilmington girls team has won a playoff game and while Sanford says she was concerned about the team getting blown out in a postseason game, this actually could have been its year to break that drought.

In a dual-classified region, the Lady Greyhounds would only play Class AA teams in the postseason and would have been pitted against another third-place team from a different region in the first round.

In addition to being denied the chance to gain this valuable postseason experience, we must express concern about the vote of no confidence sent to players.

School board member and athletic committee chairman Bob Curry, whose granddaughter plays on the team, says that while the board tries not to micromanage administrative decisions, he plans on looking into the policy, of which he was previously unaware.

It is too late for the girls basketball team to participate this season, but we urge administrators and board members to review this policy so that future teams will not have this negative experience.

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