The other day, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) held a hearing to decide if a former student of ours could play a sport for his new high school. MIAA rules prohibit students who transfer high school from playing or practicing with a varsity team if they played that same sport at another school the previous year. A waiver can be granted if the students’ family moves or if the MIAA deems it in the student’s best interest to continue playing.
The hearing room was crowded with the student, the principal of the receiving high school, an all-male panel representing the MIAA that heard the appeal, coaches, a lawyer, and family members. Our school, which was asked to speak about the matter, was represented by two women, our Athletic Director, and our Dean of Students. Other than the young man’s grandmother, they were the only women in the room.
I’m not questioning the MIAA’s right to make a decision about whether a young man can play a sport. In our opinion, the best thing for him, and the course we were planning to take this year, was that he not play sports and instead get his grades up. This is no longer our decision, however.
During the hearing, a retired principal who sat on the panel was dumbfounded by the Cristo Rey work-study program. “You mean students miss practices and games on they days they work,” he blurted. “What kind of program is that?”
“That’s correct, sir,” our young Athletic Director responded. “On work days, the students work the whole day. We’re preparing them for college and life.”
When I heard this, I could not have been more proud of our young Athletic Director, who stood up for our students and our mission in a room full of men.
Cristo Rey breaks every category that people have about education. Yes, our students miss games and practices if they are scheduled during a 9-5 day, though most sports practice after 5:00 p.m., when the work day and a homework period are done.
Our mission is very clear, and it works. For the past four years, 100% of Cristo Rey Boston’s seniors have been accepted to four-year colleges, and students who enter our school 2-4 grades below level end up going to some great colleges and universities because they work and study hard during their four years at Cristo Rey.
What kind of a program do we have, sir? I’d say we have one that delivers results for students who want to work hard for a better future.