Deaf teen in New Jersey has to petition to continue playing baseball, football in senior season

Deaf teen in New Jersey has to petition to continue playing baseball, football in senior season

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Deaf teen in New Jersey has to petition to continue playing baseball, football in senior season

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It’s the kind of story that rules are broken for. Now the question is whether New Jersey’s state governing body is willing to break the rules for a worthy young man.

As reported by The Bergen Record, Dante Washington is a rising senior at Hackensack High School who just turned 19. He is completely deaf, yet refuses to let his disability hold him back. He’s a strong student and a member of the school’s football and baseball teams.

Yet that is in jeopardy because of Washington’s birthday. The Garfield, N.J. resident just turned 19, less than seven weeks before the Sep. 1 cutoff that would have made him eligible to continue competing for Hackensack. That rather arbitrary cutoff — students who turn 19 on Sep. 1 of the school year can compete in athletics, those who were born August or earlier can not — has given Washington’s supporters hope of overturning his ban. There’s more good news in the form of a recent precedent, with Brick High football kicker Anthony Starego granted a fifth year of eligibility in 2013, a season in which he went on to become the first player with a developmental disability to compete in a NJSIAA football title game.

Washington would love to follow with similar history of his own, but mostly he just wants to play.

“I really want to play,” Washington told The Record. “It’s my last year. And I just … If I can’t play, what am I going to do?

“Quitting’s not an option. You just have to keep at it.”

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