Ahead of the game but out of the game: Page student-athlete can’t play on golf team

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- High School Senior Joe Gesell says his focus on academics over the last three years is now keeping him from playing on the Page High School golf team.

Joe doubled up on many classes as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Coming into his senior year, he only needed one course in order to graduate.

Now Joe is taking college-level courses at a nearby community college, but is still an active Page High School student.

Last week Joe found out that he wouldn't be allowed to play, because didn't take enough classes last semester.

Joe is an avid golfer and has played on the team at Page for three years. He says they have a good shot at getting to the state championship this year.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association sets eligibility requirements for all athletes. Guilford County Schools officials say those requirements are made widely available to parents and students.

Unfortunately Joe thought he was in the clear.

"I was looking forward to playing on our team this year. I feel like we're going to have a really good team and a really good chance to make it to states, and not being able to do that, it's a big blow, it kind of sucks," he said.

Joe also said he understands the rules are there for a reason, to make sure kids are focused on their school work as much as their sport, but he says the rule is unfairly hurting him.

"Our athletic director told us that it was because we want Page to be a student-athlete which is a good thing, you should have students be students first and then athletes, but I'm wondering why in my case why I don't fit that bill," he said.

Mike Gesell, Joe's Dad, says he feels there was some kind of communication breakdown at the high school. He also said his son has worked hard and deserves to play on the team.

"He went above and beyond and yet now you're going to abandon him and leave him to not participate and not support his school after he did everything right? That's what really stinks," Mike said.

Mike said he doesn't think it's too late, and believes the NCHSAA should consider making a change in the rules.