EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

Some student-athletes to miss graduation because of sports schedules

May 23, 2023, 5:53 PM | Updated: May 24, 2023, 7:52 am

TOOELE, Utah — Mixed emotions from student-athletes and their families as state playoffs overlap with graduation ceremonies this week.

“The seniors are a little are a little torn, they’re a little frustrated,” said Lauren Spendlove, head softball coach at Tooele High School.

As the Buffaloes face off against the Olympus High School Titans in the 5A state playoffs Tuesday, they do so knowing that if they advance, five seniors will miss their graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

“We’re trying to talk them up, let them know they’re going to have on-field festivities for them and it will be special even though they might be able to walk with their class,” Spendlove said.

The conflicting schedule the Buffaloes potentially face is one many Utah seniors and their families are facing this week as the Utah High School Activities Association hosts state playoffs in multiple sports.

KSL TV has heard from parents in multiple school districts, including the Cache County School District, where the graduation ceremony for Green Canyon High School in North Logan and Ridgeline High School in Millville conflict with the state semifinal in 4A boys lacrosse. The teams have petitioned the UHSAA to relocate the game so students can attend their graduation ceremony and still play in the game, but that request has been denied.

In a statement, UHSAA assistant director Jon Oglesby said, “The UHSAA and Cache School District are working together to create a special graduation experience for these student-athletes and their families at the tournament venue.”

In the Tooele School District, communications director Brett Valdez said they’re doing what they can to ensure that if the Buffaloes advance and have to miss their graduation ceremony, they’ll feel celebrated at the game.

“We want to make it special for them, we know it’s a big day for both events,” Valdez said.

As for making sure the overlapping schedule doesn’t happen to families in the future – he’s said that’s more complicated because those schedules are made years in advance.

“We set our calendars so far in advanced — it’s two years basically for the district calendar — so it’s really limited on what we’re able to do that way,” Valdez said. “We would love to, but our priority is making sure we get the right school days and hit all those breaks, so it’s a little challenging that way.”

During practice on Tuesday, the Buffaloes continued to stay focused, determined to advance in the state tournament despite the potential disappointment for their five seniors.

“I understand as a student wanting to be there after having gone to school for 12 years but I’m also trying to remind them of how special of an opportunity it is to make it this far in the state tournament,” Spendlove said.

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Some student-athletes to miss graduation because of sports schedules