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OHSAA rules Fitch used ineligible players

Published: Tue, May 10, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.


Alex Sierra


Kevin Sierra

By Kristine Gill



Fitch High School varsity and junior varsity baseball teams have forfeited the games two ineligible players participated in since the beginning of the season.

Roxanne Price, assistant commissioner with the Ohio High School Athletic Association, said because all high school baseball teams in the state qualify for tournaments, having to forfeit games will not make the team suffer as much as a football team for example.

Kevin and Alex Sierra, two brothers from Puerto Rico, are ineligible to play high school sports in Ohio until they meet the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s requirements regarding residency.

“It’s a shame because it’s the boys that are suffering,” Fitch head baseball coach Wally Ford said.

To be eligible, the boys’ mother or father would have to move to Ohio from Puerto Rico as OHSAA regulations state that at least one parent must live in the state. The other option is for the boys’ grandmother, who currently has power of attorney and physical custody of the boys, to obtain legal custody.

The Sierras moved from Puerto Rico to live with their aunt and grandmother in Austintown after conditions in their home country became unsafe.

The problem they could run into is transferring legal custody to their grandmother after they’ve already moved here. An exception to OHSAA bylaw 4-6-3 states that the Commissioner’s office can declare a student eligible if “the Commissioner’s office determines that the purpose of this change in custody was not for athletic reasons, but purely for the best interest of the student in terms of the student’s mental, physical and educational well-being.”

Because the students are already in Austintown receiving an education, the commissioner may deem the transfer of legal custody to be for athletic reasons only.

There are exceptions to each of the bylaws OHSAA outlines, but Price said the brothers do not meet any of them.

Price said she could speak hypothetically as to whether the brothers would meet eligibility requirements should their grandmother receive legal custody.

She adds that no where in the bylaws does it state that students will only be made ineligible for one year or one season if they don’t meet residency requirements.

“Thus, there is the possibility that students who cannot meet the exceptions under the two bylaws, will not have any opportunity to compete in athletics at an Ohio member school,” she wrote in an email.

The boys’ aunt, Maria Tirado, said the pair is still upset about having to miss out on a season.

“But we never lost our hope,” she said.

In the meantime, the Austintown baseball teams can continue their season.

“This matter could have been avoided, I think,” Price said, adding that the school is responsible for ensuring all students, especially transfer and new students, meet OHSAA standards of eligibility prior to the start of the season.


1valleyred(1103 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I never want to hear from an Austintown Fitch fan that Ursuline recruits ever again! Look who got the violations now lol.

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2MLC75(660 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree with you valleyred.I don't care how Fitch spins it,the two boys only came here to play baseball.They more than likely were only average in Puerto Rico,coming here hoping to be better than our kids who were born here.

Lets wait to see if they go back home to Puerto Rico,since they can't play baseball here,then the truth will come out.

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3mahoningvalley12(36 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

the fitch baseball team stinks so it obviously didn't help them any...when fitch has had good talent they seem to always hoover around the .500 line anyways...maybe they can convince Annarella to coach baseball too!

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4spikez57(1 comment)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I met these kids well over a year ago long before any of the coaches even heard about them and they didn't come to our school just to play baseball.If they would have come just to play ball I can assure you Ursuline or Mooney would have had them.I think everyone of you should get your facts straight before making comments that make you look stupid.mahoningvalley12 Your comments trully shine a beacon on your ignorance.

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5sports62(1 comment)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

This is a shame for the rest of the Fitch team having to suffer forfeits due to someones stupidity. Also neither of these boys have played a JV game they have played Freshman and Varsity. To only say they came here to play baseball is untrue. Do not speak until you know all the facts of why these two young men moved to the USA whether it be in Austintown or somewhere else. Spikez57 you hit the nail right on the head.

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6valleyred(1103 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Honestly, when the Vindicator wrote the article on these two a few months back, everyone knew that the OHSAA would become aware of it.

I can only imagine the reaction from you guys had this happened to Ursuline.

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7AtownParent(565 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

These boys came to Austintown because they are living with family. It is not like they were given Catholic school scholarships like at Mooney and Ursline. It is apples and oranges to even compare the two.

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8DougFister(1 comment)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Its so wrong to deny the boys their love of the game...all of you who are speaking down on the Fitch Baseball program or the boys need to learn a little respect and not be so damn ignorant. Please get your facts straight before you say anything. its a shame that someone would go to all this time just to deny 2 boys love of the game.

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9PleaseBeQuiet(1 comment)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

From the perspective of a current AFHS senior, I can assure you that these two boys are more than just a pair of baseball players. In an aforementioned comment, these boys are here to live, not play baseball. Yeah, baseball is an important part of their lives, as is any sport, but you wouldn't know that because of your biased opinions. These students not only participate in a myriad of sports, but they're frequently involved in extracurricular activites, such as church groups and youth organizinations; and they're doing this as they work diligently at mastering the English language just to have a chance at succeeding in this country. If you want to slam students in articles and comments, you'll have plenty of opportunity when you begin to realize how hard our teachers are being worked while yielding less money. Don't worry, Vindy, just wait until the beginning of next year when Austintown's "excellent" ratings plummet into oblivion. For now, though, stop bashing the two brothers. I'm not disputing the regulations, but they're kids who have no control over where they go; and they don't deserve to be treated as if they had known every regulation to date. I hope the family can assess the situation properly, and, regardless of the outcome, the community can re-establish some of its dignity.

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10mahoningvalley12(36 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

ignorant?? maybe unkind...can not be ignorant if you correctly take the facts into consideration. Although my comment was a bit unkind and a bad attempt at a little bit of humor, it does not change the fact that the baseball program there is and has underachieved for a very long time. I do feel bad for these boys but not playing baseball isnt the end of the world...not getting an chance to live and go to school in this great country would be far worse. Every athletic director has to get a ruling from the state and make sure everything is in order before a student is eligible to play a sport and if your looking for someone to blame it is the AD at Fitch because the baseball coach and the family of the boys were simply following what they were told by the AD.

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