CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Swimmers in one school district in North Carolina are upset because they aren’t able to participate in their postseason. It comes while other sports were allowed.
Graham Hohnbaum, a junior at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, has been swimming since the age of four and practices at the pool almost every day.
“It’s a pretty big part of my life,” Hohnbaum says. “I do it most days of the year, so it’s really a big part of what I do.”
He hopes to get a college scholarship for swimming. However, regional and state championships are usually where athletes are able to attract the attention of college coaches. Even though Hohnbaum already qualified for the regional championship scheduled for February 5-7, he won’t be able to compete, meaning he can’t qualify for states.
Hohnbaum's situation is a result of CMS deciding to pause school sports due to COVID-19. However, they gave the exception to cross-country and volleyball.
CMS superintendent Earnest Winston said in an email that’s because those sports were already in the postseason. Spectrum News asked why that should matter and why not make it the same for all sports.
“Let me start by saying I share the same disappointment that many of our student-athletes have about our decision to pause,” Winston says. “The pandemic has changed our lives and we must do all that we can to put safety on the field, on the court, or in the pool, to put that first.”
Hohnbaum’s mom says there is one week until regionals. She still hopes something changes by then.
“We are just hopeful that those leaders will take the time to understand us and admit they made a mistake,” she says.
For now, CMS athletes won’t be competing in the regional or state championship.
“It was just a disappointment,” Hohnbaum says. “We have worked as a team all year to represent our school and they are just like 'no, you worked the whole season, but you can’t reap the benefits of the postseason.'”
The state swimming championship meet is scheduled Feb. 10-13. There is currently a petition with more than 5,000 signatures is asking the CMS to allow swimmers to participate in the postseason.