blake booker

(1-21-19) -Oak Harbor Sophomore Blake Booker had his basketball season end last weekend by the OHSAA,  The state association says he is not eligible for the second half of the season after leaving Put-In-Bay to open enroll at Oak Harbor.

pbay.jpg

The state’s new transfer rule allows any transfer to play 50% of the games for his new school, all games are at the start of the season. Booker is not allowed to continue his season and is not eligible for post-season.

The OHSAA says he does not meet any of the 11 exceptions for transfers.

In an email reply to SSN –

Steve Poe, Superintendent, Put-in-Bay School

I have said all along, even to the OHSAA, we do not have a varsity caliber basketball team! We are down to five boys and three girls (who dress and play with the boys after their game). We have been playing other school’s freshman teams, church affiliated schools, charter schools, and island schools. We have not played any other school’s varsity team that goes on to compete in the OHSAA basketball tournament. We do not, and have never, entered the OHSAA tournament!

Exception 10 seems to apply to Booker –

exception 10

The following email arrived after we posted this article from Put-In-Bay Bpys Basketball Coach….

Hello I am the coach (Craig Schuffenecker) at Put-In-Bay High School.  Our team has basic principles that I found.  That is play with great effort and great enthusiasm.  I have never judged our success off of a score board.   Thankfully Put-In-Bay is a unique community where high school athletics can be what they ideally should be and that is based off of those two values.

I have great community support and love coaching here.  I have had a range of success here.  Our teams have never gone to the OHSAA tournament and for various reasons.   One is due to our unique calendar and island life.  During holidays kids travel to visit family and having a normal “varsity” practice is unrealistic as I realize there are things bigger than basketball and family time is very important.

Also we have a unique February break.  Towards the end of February, the school takes a week off for family vacations.  With the island economy being summer tourism based, family vacations during the summer, while possible, is impractical for workers as they need to work. I grew up on a farm and the saying really hits here, make hay when it’s fit.  Trying to continue a season after this break again is very hard and what team would take a week off right before the playoff push?

Another key factor in our school choice to not play the OHSAA Tournament is competitive balance.  We simply do not have the numbers to compete fairly.  I love my players and I work hard for them and they work hard for me but it’s not a fair fight.  My biggest team in 11 years of coaching was 10 kids.  That’s who came out to play not me picking who comes out.  Does OHSAA really want a game that is not competitive? I think not, games like this garner national attention and not in the good way.

Also after Blake’s ruling I inquired about entry into the tournament and played the what if game.  In the winter travel is dictated by air travel.  Normal weather on the mainland may not result in flying around tournament time lake fog rolls in and can shut down planes on a “beautiful mainland day.” I asked Jerry Snodgrass (OHSAA Executive Director) if they would postpone play if we couldn’t fly over and his reply to me was to refer me to the local tournament  committee.  He did not answer my question on his belief either way.  Holding up a massive tournament for this would be difficult to do and harm the number 1 seed in our district we would have to play.  So we are actually doing OHSAA a favor by not playing in it.  I’m not saying we would never play in the tournament because things do change but right now it’s impractical.

Now as the coach I have the most to lose by letting a good player leave. We have struggled this year without his play and leadership.  It has made coaching more difficult.  With all this being said Blake should be allowed to play.  How can one fairly remove tournament play for a student who does not have the option at his home school?  This was a cold enforcement of the letter of the law but not the intent.  How much of a Pandora’s box would you open if you let an island kid transfer? We are the only island high school and that should have played a role.

AGAIN LET BLAKE PLAY!  That is coming from someone who has potentially the most to lose with his departure.

In another email that followed the one above to SSN-

I will say this we also have a great school here.  Our individual attention is great and we have kids doing great things.  I am biased but Blake transferring was a lateral move at best education wise.  Not to insult the fine BCS school district but in this case numbers work to our advantage.  I love Put-In-Bay school and the community.  We just are limited in basketball and that is okay.  We did create a fair tournament this year.  It is the Great Lakes Island Basketball tournament.  Here island schools compete.  Put-in-Bay played Beaver Island, Mackinac island and Washington island.  This is the tournament made for us that is fair not the state tournament.  I am proud to say Put-In-Bay won the overall boys and girls championship with a 5-1 record.  Girls were first 3-0 and boys second 2-1.  I am always trying to improve our program.  I do a four day a week lifting program before school on the gym stage with meager equipment.  I am proud to coach here.  I am telling you this for you to understand our program.

Now you heard from two Put-In-Bay School officials on the situation. The OHSAA has a tough job with eligibility issues in this time of athletes making moves like fantasy sports leagues on the web. Let’s hope the association reevaluates the situation and will allow Blake Booker to continue his basketball season.

  • #LetBlakePlay…it’s the right thing to do