CHSAA backs off banning local ski academy athletes from playing sports for other schools
EAGLE — A state agency backed away from threats to bar Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy athletes from competing in sports for other schools.
The Colorado High School Activities Association voted Thursday morning to keep things as they are — students at sports academies such as VSSA can continue to play for other schools, but not in sports offered at their schools. VSSA athletes, therefore, cannot compete on ski teams for other schools.
Also, VSSA cannot be a CHSAA member and cannot field their own sports teams to play against other CHSAA schools.
CHSAA says that with other Colorado sports academies in the planning stages, including a hockey academy said to be starting in Denver, it’s trying to curtail recruiting athletes. CHSAA said in a statement their training and conditioning create an unfair advantage.
The ruling, however, does nothing to stop private schools such as Denver’s Valor Christian from recruiting. Valor Christian has won five straight Colorado state football titles in three different classifications, including a 56-16 drubbing of Fairview in last year’s 5A championship game.
Dr. Jason Glass braved Thursday morning’s snowstorm to drive to Denver and testify against the CHSAA proposal. Glass is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools, and VSSA is the nation’s only public school sports academy.
The Eagle County school district was ready to sue CHSAA if it approved the rule, the school district said in a statement.
“We are prepared to go to the mat for our students,” the statement said.
He also got help from state Sen. Gail Schwartz and Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, who represent Eagle County in Colorado’s state Legislature and lobbied against the proposal.
‘I Don’t Agree With It’
Jack Skidmore is a VSSA sophomore and a goalie for Battle Mountain’s soccer team.
“I get what they’re saying, but I don’t agree with it. I don’t think it has any correlation to sports like soccer,” Skidmore said.
Skidmore is one of four VSSA players on Battle Mountain’s soccer team. Of those four — Skidmore, Matt P’ng, Paco Serna and Aaron Milligan — Milligan was the only starter. VSSA’s Ernie Cordova played football for Battle Mountain, as did Clayton Belcher, said VSSA principal Geoff Grimmer.
As soccer players, they don’t have any training time other than what they have with their Battle Mountain teammates, Skidmore said. Because VSSA runs longer schools days in the spring and fall, soccer players have to miss class to make practice, and then make up their class work.
When it’s all added up, VSSA students are in class 1,080 hours, the same as kids in the Denver metro area, Grimmer said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.